If CO2 emissions continue on current trends, this could result in the average pH of the surface oceans decreasing by 0.5 units below the level in pre-industrial times, by 2100. This is beyond the range of natural variability and represents a level probably not experienced for at least hundreds of thousands of years and possibly much longer (Caldeira & Wickett 2003). Critically, the rate of change is also at least 100 times higher than the maximum rate observed during this time period. These changes are so rapid that they will significantly reduce the buffering capacity of the natural processes that have moderated changes in ocean chemistry over most of geological time.

Climate Facts

Ocean Carbon & Biogeochemistry

This Fact Page displays text and images related to global warming and climate change
(Hover your mouse over the text below to "popup" a window with a related text.
Click on the text or image to open a new window with a detailed description.)