Ocean Acidity is 30% Higher and On Track to 150% Higher by 2100

Ocean acidification is the ongoing decrease in the pH of the Earth’s oceans, caused by the uptake of carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere. Seawater is slightly basic (meaning pH is over 7), and ocean acidification involves a shift towards pH-neutral conditions rather than a transition to acidic conditions (pH less than 7). An estimated 30–40% of the carbon dioxide from human activity released into the atmosphere dissolves into oceans, rivers and lakes.

Between 1751 and 1996, surface ocean pH is estimated to have decreased from approximately 8.25 to 8.14, representing an increase of almost 30% in H+ ion concentration in the world’s oceans. In the 15-year period 1995–2010 alone, acidity has increased 6 percent in the upper 100 meters of the Pacific Ocean from Hawaii to Alaska.

At the current rate, 70% of North Atlantic cold-water corals will be living in corrosive waters by 2050-60.

A study conducted by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in January 2018 showed that the skeletal growth of corals under acidified conditions is primarily affected by a reduced capacity to build dense exoskeletons, rather than affecting the linear extension of the exoskeleton. Using Global Climate Models, they show that the density of some species of corals could be reduced by over 20% by the end of this century.

Acidification Remediation – With a Lot of Lime

900 Gigawatts of nuclear power could be used to offset ocean acidification. A different alternative is iron fertilization of the ocean but this article will just focus on Dr. Cannara’s remediation plan.

Dr. Alex Cannara says that molten salt reactors could be used to crush dolomite and limestone rock, making a residue that would reverse ocean acidification.

Duplicate natural processes…
a) Reverse ancient seafloor carbonate formation via heating dolomite/limestone from land deposits, just as subduction & heating in magma accomplishes.
b) Capture freed CO2.
c) Return residue of Ca/Mg oxides (lime) to oceans. d) Dissociate CO2 and H2O via catalytic heating, releasing Oxygen to air and capturing C & H2, and/or, sequester unusable CO2 to geologic storage.
e) Process split C & H2 into desired hydrocarbons for…
1) Carbon-neutral fuels;
2) Industrial feedstocks;
3) Benign C-H compounds for geologic storage – in old wells/mines, etc

Remediation – The Numbers

• Processing limestone/dolomite to lime (>1GJ/ton)
• Lime transport to ocean (rail 0.085kWHr/ton-mile + ship
• CO2 cracking (assume electrochemical reduction of at least 505 kJ/mole ~1.5GJ/ton)
• H2O cracking — @2000C, or electrolysis @850C 225 GJ/ton H2 (64% efficient incl electricity gen)
• C-H compound reforming (use H2O cracking heat)
– Fuels (for critical uses – aircraft, etc.)
– Feedstocks (petroleum/gas/coal substitutes)
– For geologic sequestration (waxes – C25+)
• Assume remediate 10% of yearly CO2 emissions = 3Gt
– (3×10^9 (1 + 1.5)x10^9 ) x 2.8×10-7 = 700TWHrs + H2O cracking
– less than 90, 1GWe non-emitting powerplants + H2O cracking energy

25 thoughts on “Ocean Acidity is 30% Higher and On Track to 150% Higher by 2100”

  1. Well, he’s not all that wrong. The one group that tried it I think got fined big-time for pollution.

    And for the next couple of spawning seasons there were a LOT more salmon than normal. A LOT.

    This does seem to have potential as a method of treating the problem. Therefore, all research on it must be suspended indefinitely until it can be determined that it is 100% safe.

    “It appears to be a blatant violation of two international resolutions,” Kristina Gjerde, a senior high-seas adviser for the International Union for Conservation of Nature told the Guardian. “Even the placement of iron particles into the ocean, whether for carbon sequestration or fish replenishment, should not take place, unless it is assessed and found to be legitimate scientific research without commercial motivation. This does not appear to even have had the guise of legitimate scientific research.”
    Silvia Ribeiro, of the international anti-technology watchdog ETC Group, also voiced her horror at any development that might allow humanity to escape from the need for carbon rationing. “It is now more urgent than ever that governments unequivocally ban such open-air geoengineering experiments,” she said. “They are a dangerous distraction providing governments and industry with an excuse to avoid reducing fossil-fuel emissions.”


  2. You and the other plant supremacists might want to cut back on huffing 1000ppm co2.

    doi: 10.1289/ehp.1104789

  3. Does making seacrete using electricity reduce dissolved CO2 in seawater? I don’t remember enough chemistry to check…

  4. It’s hard to believe this. What about those dramatic satellite images we’ve all seen of deforestation over the past few decades?

  5. I don’t think it’s verboten to talk about it – I’ve seen a lot of scientific articles talking about it, but the concensus is that ocean fertilization, along with various other proposed methods including limestone deposition need to be carefully studied to make sure we don’t go and mess up the ecosystem through more unintended consequences of our actions. Unfortunately, there is just not enough funding for this kind of research, which desperately needs to be done.

  6. Lime doesn’t need to be dumped into the oceans. Rivers are much more convenient.

  7. This article ignores it, but it’s easy to increase the limiting nutrient level in many parts of the ocean.

  8. If my memory servers me correctly, the study that “proved” that even a slight ocean acidification is harmful used hydrochloric acid instead of carbonic acid to achieve lower ph level.

    Here is a link to a study that used correct methods, and surprise it shows that more co2 is a net positive to the ocean ecosystem.
    iglesias rodriguez et al 2008

  9. “but it seems to be considered verboten to even consider it by the global warmists.”

    Irrational and evidence-free. Are you trying to pass some kind of tribal allegiance test?

  10. At 3.3GJ/tonne, Calera process concrete from oceanic CO2 produces electrolytically liberated Cl2 which can be sequestered 1000ft beneath the ocean floor in calcareous ooze using the density difference between a liquid Cl2 column and a similar seawater column in the deep ocean. The reaction obtained:

    CaCO3 + 2HCl => CaCl2 + H2CO3 + heat

    The H2CO3 then acts as a connate fluid subject to immediate carbonate buffering and, over geologic time, lithification.

    This overcomes the primary environmental objection to the Calrea process.

    The only question is, what to do with all that concrete?


  11. Another thing with the oceans is that warmer water cannot absorb so much oxygen. That could be why fish species from the tropics are moving down into more temperate waters. Acidity is a double whammy, and overfishing, combined with trawling ripping up the bottom fauna, probably worse than either of them at the moment. Not to worry, when tuna go the way of the Newfoundland cod, we can fish out the toothfish from the bottom of the Antarctic Ocean.

  12. “...Any interruption of current trends leads to reversal by multiple means physical, chemical, and biological…

    What exactly would interrupt current trends and allow the earth’s natural co2 sequestration mechanisms(physical, chemical & biological) to dispose of the excess co2? It couldn’t possibly be to limit co2 emissions and keep it within the earth’s yearly carbon budget. Perhaps, increasing co2 emissions will trigger the reversal.

    Besides, if you think the effects of ever increasing amounts co2 is a net positive, why would you ever want to reduce it.

  13. First off, anyone dressed like this guy Dunbar in a YouTube video cannot be taken seriously. Just look at that shirt. Secondly, quite a bit of a folly to just project the future based on recent events. It’s all been done before and it’s never been correct. I remember renting the movie Top Gun w. hen I was in eighth grade. The video had a bunch of Hollywood celebrities in a 10 minute rant prior to the movie starting that explained why the world was going to end over ocean pollution and acid rain. I think things are better today than when this video was released in the 80s. If there is a real problem I would be the first one to say let’s tackle it, But who can take these alarmists seriously?

  14. Actually, it is. Though not that it matters much, as it’s seldom a limiting nutrient.

  15. If you bothered reading the article, you’d have noticed that’s one of the remediation strategies suggested.

  16. The attractive thing about the iron fertilization suggestion is that it is both relatively cheap (compared to other ways to address the increase in carbon dioxide, and might even have positive returns when increased ocean productivity is taken into account), and is simply increasing a process that already occurs naturally at a slower rate.

    Certainly, we cannot just blunder ahead with it without careful testing, but the fact that it would be just increasing the rate of something that already happens naturally makes it plausible that it would make the desired reduction in carbon dioxide levels without causing undesired other effects. To my thinking, that makes it a top candidate for investigation, but it seems to be considered verboten to even consider it by the global warmists. That seems not a very science-based attitude on the part of the warmists.

  17. It doesn’t matter. The science is settled.

    What matters is that we abolish capitalism and impose good ‘ol communism/socialism. That will fix everything.

  18. What is the theory behind the school of thought that says this is a good thing?
    Carbonic acid is sea based plant food?

  19. Straight line extrapolation for complex biological systems is foolish. One cannot predict anything for oceans as a whole and certainly not dissolved CO2 levels when multiple feedback systems are operative. Atmospheric CO2 levels depend upon CO2 released from oceans themselves as temperatures rise, as they have done for a number of decades. Any interruption of current trends leads to reversal by multiple means physical, chemical, and biological.

    When the intent of projections is ideological rather than scientific the host of crucial details becomes lost and only simpleminded straightline extrapolations remain.

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