Ocean Acidification
This unit discusses the change in the pH of the world's oceans as a result of the increasing CO2 content of the atmosphere. More information about climate change and the increase in the CO2 content of the atmosphere is available in the unit on Climate Change.

Ocean acidification is a process where the pH of the Earth's oceans is decreasing (becoming more acidic) as the CO2 levels in the atmosphere increase. The acidification of the ocean's is having a dramatic effect on the ecosystem and fisheries.

Workshop Presentations

PowerPoint. Click to download the MS Powerpoint file (3.2 Mbytes).

HTML Click to view the presentation in html format. Videos may be viewable depending on browser and operating system.

PDF. Click to view or download the presentation in PDF (3.1 Mbytes)

Online lecture Click to view a streaming lecture (coming soon).

Classroom Activities

Ocean Acidification in a Jar PDF Word Document In this activity, students create a model of how the world's oceans absorb atmospheric CO2 that results in ocean acidification (lower pH).

Online Video and Media Resources

Impacts of Ocean Acidification https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/c/c5/Impacts_of_ocean_acidification_%28NOAA_EVL%29.webm This short video from NOAA explains the science behind ocean acidificatioin and its effects on the food web in the ocean.

Acidifying Waters Corrode Northwest Shellfish https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x7MpI9dZIjk This video discusses the effects of ocean acidification on the shells of marine organisms such as oysters.

Useful Websites

NOAA Ocean Acidification Program. https://oceanacidification.noaa.gov/ This website is NOAA's portal for research, news and information about ocean acidification.

Ocean Acidification Education. http://www.noaa.gov/resource-collections/ocean-acidification This NOAA website contains introductory material to the science behind ocean acidification and educational materials.

NGSS Disciplinary Core Ideas

ESS3.A: Natural Resources Living things need water, air, and resources from the land, and they live in places that have the things they need. Humans use natural resources for everything they do. (K-ESS3-1)

Grade 2
ESS2.C: The Roles of Water in Earth's Surface Processes Water is found in the ocean, rivers, lakes, and ponds. Water exists as solid ice and in liquid form. (2-ESS2-3)

Grade 4
ESS3.A: Natural Resources Energy and fuels that humans use are derived from natural sources, and their use affects the environment in multiple ways. Some resources are renewable over time, and others are not. (4-ESS3-1)

Grade 5
ESS3.C: Human Impacts on Earth Systems Human activities in agriculture, industry, and everyday life have had major effects on the land, vegetation, streams, ocean, air, and even outer space. But individuals and communities are doing things to help protect Earth's resources and environments. (5-ESS3-1)

Middle School
ESS3.A: Natural Resources Humans depend on Earth's land, ocean, atmosphere, and biosphere for many different resources. Minerals, fresh water, and biosphere resources are limited, and many are not renewable or replaceable over human lifetimes. These resources are distributed unevenly around the planet as a result of past geologic processes. (MS-ESS3-1)

ESS3.C: Human Impacts on Earth Systems
Human activities have significantly altered the biosphere, sometimes damaging or destroying natural habitats and causing the extinction of other species. But changes to Earth's environments can have different impacts (negative and positive) for different living things. (MS-ESS3-3)
Typically as human populations and per-capita consumption of natural resources increase, so do the negative impacts on Earth unless the activities and technologies involved are engineered otherwise. (MS-ESS3-3), (MS-ESS3-4)

ESS3.D: Global Climate Change Human activities, such as the release of greenhouse gases from burning fossil fuels, are major factors in the current rise in Earth's mean surface temperature (global warming). Reducing the level of climate change and reducing human vulnerability to whatever climate changes do occur depend on the understanding of climate science, engineering capabilities, and other kinds of knowledge, such as understanding of human behavior and on applying that knowledge wisely in decisions and activities. (MS-ESS3-5)

High School
ESS2.D: Weather and Climate Changes in the atmosphere due to human activity have increased carbon dioxide concentrations and thus affect climate. (HS-ESS2-4), (HS-ESS2-6)

ESS2.E: Biogeology The many dynamic and delicate feedbacks between the biosphere and other Earth systems cause a continual co-evolution of Earth's surface and the life that exists on it. (HS-ESS2-7)

ESS3.C: Human Impacts on Earth Systems The sustainability of human societies and the biodiversity that supports them requires responsible management of natural resources.

ESS3.D: Global Climate Change
Though the magnitudes of human impacts are greater than they have ever been, so too are human abilities to model, predict, and manage current and future impacts. (HS-ESS3-5)
Through computer simulations and other studies, important discoveries are still being made about how the ocean, the atmosphere, and the biosphere interact and are modified in response to human activities. (HS-ESS3-6)

Common Scientific Misconceptions

coming soon


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