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What Is Ocean Acidification?

NOAA Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory Carbon Group

This static image from NOAA's Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory Carbon Program offers a visually compelling and scientifically sound image of the sea water carbonate chemistry process that leads to ocean acidification and impedes calcification.

Learn more about Teaching Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness»

ngssSee how this Static Visualization supports the Next Generation Science Standards»
Middle School: 1 Disciplinary Core Idea
High School: 5 Disciplinary Core Ideas

Climate Literacy
About Teaching Climate Literacy

Biogeochemical cycles of greenhouse gases / Carbon cycle
About Teaching Principle 2
Other materials addressing 2d
Climate impacts ecosystems and past species extinctions
About Teaching Principle 3
Other materials addressing 3c
Increased acidity of oceans and negative impacts on food chain due to increasing carbon dioxide levels
About Teaching Principle 7
Other materials addressing 7d

Notes From Our Reviewers The CLEAN collection is hand-picked and rigorously reviewed for scientific accuracy and classroom effectiveness. Read what our review team had to say about this resource below or learn more about how CLEAN reviews teaching materials
Teaching Tips | Science | Pedagogy | Technical Details

Teaching Tips

  • Most relevant in a life science or chemistry class focusing on an often overlooked and enormously important impact of burning fossil fuels.
  • Might best be used as context for a series of basic chemistry experiments understanding buffering, acidity, dissolution, and carbonate reactions.

About the Science

  • In the text surrounding the image there is a good overview of the chemistry and consequences of ocean acidification.
  • Image shows a simplified version of a portion of the sea water chemistry that leads to ocean acidification.
  • Passed initial science review.
  • Comments from expert scientist: Accurate, condensed information about ocean acidification and its impacts - both present (observed) and future (predicted).

About the Pedagogy

  • This site has potentially helpful background on the complex chemical interactions and impacts of CO2 from the atmosphere on the marine ecosystem.
  • Additionally, this site provides links to papers, data, and graphs, which will aid further investigation.
  • Other steps of the chemical process are shown in other graphics that are available on this website.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • Good illustration with background information on ocean acidification.
  • Background information the the science and how related research is conducted is included.

Related URLs These related sites were noted by our reviewers but have not been reviewed by CLEAN

This is the NOAA overview page on ocean acidification: http://www.pmel.noaa.gov/co2/story/Ocean+Acidification

Next Generation Science Standards See how this Static Visualization supports:

Middle School

Disciplinary Core Ideas: 1

MS-PS1.B1:Substances react chemically in characteristic ways. In a chemical process, the atoms that make up the original substances are regrouped into different molecules, and these new substances have different properties from those of the reactants.

High School

Disciplinary Core Ideas: 5

HS-ESS2.D2:Gradual atmospheric changes were due to plants and other organisms that captured carbon dioxide and released oxygen.

HS-ESS2.D3:Changes in the atmosphere due to human activity have increased carbon dioxide concentrations and thus affect climate.

HS-ESS2.E1: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-LS2.B3:Photosynthesis and cellular respiration are important components of the carbon cycle, in which carbon is exchanged among the biosphere, atmosphere, oceans, and geosphere through chemical, physical, geological, and biological processes.

HS-PS1.B2:In many situations, a dynamic and condition-dependent balance between a reaction and the reverse reaction determines the numbers of all types of molecules present.

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