The Arctic Ocean is more vulnerable to acidification than the Southern Ocean

A study published in 2013 has focused on the comparison of the sensitivity of the polar oceans to anthropogenic acidification [1]. This designation – acidification – constitutes a pH decreasing, caused by increase of carbon dioxide (CO2). This gas (largely produced by anthropogenic source) dissolved in water, reacts to this by changing its chemical balance and cause a reduction in pH. The polar oceans are chemically sensitive to anthropogenic acidification due to its relatively low alkalinity and, correspondingly, a weak acid neutralizing capacity in an extreme way without disturbing the biological activities that occur in them.

The study made comparisons of unique observations of CO2 covering annual cycles. The study sites were located in the Arctic (Amundsen Gulf) and the other was located in Prydz Bay, Antarctica. By comparison, the study site in the Arctic demonstrated experience greater seasonal heating and increased seasonal cooling. The lower levels of alkalinity and pH were less experienced in the Arctic compared to the place in Antarctica.

These results suggested that the main Arctic system presents a greater vulnerability to man-made changes to the Antarctic, and as such the ocean acidification phenomena, takes place in the future with different magnitudes in these two systems. This subject has a special interest in since ocean acidification has a strong impact both in terms of metabolic reactions; as behavioral or structural even a few living beings that form the basis of the marine food chain.

[1] Originated from human activities



Shadwick, E. H., T. W. Trull, H. Thomas & J. A. E. Gibson, Vulnerability of Polar Oceans to Anthropogenic Acidification: Comparison of Arctic and Antarctic Seasonal Cycles, Scientific Reports 3, 2339, 2013. doi: 10.1038/srep02339

Author: Sara Aparício