The new IPCC report reminds that through the fits and starts of climate warming, we continue to steadily carbonate the ocean. From the Summary for Policymakers:
|Measurements of CO2 partial pressure and pH from three stations|
Ocean acidification is quantified by decreases in pH. The pH of ocean surface water has decreased by 0.1 since the beginning of the industrial era (high confidence), corresponding to a 26% increase in hydrogen ion concentration.
The chemical conditions are unlike anything that the vast majority of organisms living in the surface of the ocean have ever regularly experienced. The changes are predicted to continue:
|Ensemble mean surface pH from suite of earth system models|
The RCP2.6 scenario, one in which the world rapidly moves to limit carbon emissions, would likely avoid some of the worst damage to coral reefs and other marine ecosystems.
The RCP8.5 scenario, the current "business as usual", could be considered the "few corals" scenario. To use IPCC parlance, this would be stated with medium or high confidence. Perhaps we should add bacon to this scenario. They say everything tastes better with bacon.
(with thanks to research assistant Matthew Wagstaff)