Facts and figures on ocean acidification

  • The ocean absorbs approximately 26% of the CO2 added to the atmosphere from human activities each year.
  • Ocean acidity has increased by 30% since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. This increase is 100 times faster than any change in acidity experienced by marine organisms for at least the last 20 million years.
  • Business as usual scenarios for CO2 emissions could make the ocean up to 150% more acidic by 2100.
  • If the concentration of atmospheric CO2 continues to increase at the current rate, the ocean will become corrosive to the shells of many marine organisms by the end of this century. How or if marine organisms may adapt is not known.
  • Ocean acidification may threaten plankton, which forms the base of the marine food chain; it is key to the survival of larger fish.
  • Ocean acidification may render most regions of the ocean inhospitable to coral reefs, affecting tourism, food security, shoreline protection, and biodiversity.
  • The ocean absorbs CO2 from human activities at a rate of 22 million tons per day.
  • The ocean’s capacity to absorb CO2 from the atmosphere is being degraded by ocean acidification, which could worsen its impact on climate change.
  • With the carbon market price range of US $20 to $200 per tonne of carbon, ocean uptake of CO2 represents an annual subsidy to the global economy of US$40 - 400 billion, or 0.1–1% of the Gross World Product.
  • Further research and collective action is needed to fully understand and mitigate the impacts of ocean acidification.
  • The Blueprint for ocean and coastal sustainability includes proposals to implement urgent actions to mitigate and adapt to ocean acidification.
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