Ocean Acidification Is Extremely Underestimated, Scientists Accidentally Discover

Africa is right there, and medieval Europe knew that. They just didn’t know the details until explorers boldly went to where no European had gone before, at least as far as anybody knows. Now, scientists at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev have made a discovery while researching characteristics of the blood that had been right under our nose, as lead researcher Prof. Ehud Pines from the Department of Chemistry tells Haaretz. “We just didn’t realize exactly how important carbonic acid is in regulating the acidity of our blood — and of the oceans,” he says.

Ocean acidification is a clear and present danger to marine life, to the marine food chain and to animals that eat marine life (such as ourselves).

Ocean acidity differs vastly on a local scale. But looking at the global average, the world’s oceans are about 25 percent more acidic than before the industrial revolution.

To those of you who took chemistry once upon a time, the pH of the ocean is presently about 8.1. The pH of our blood averages about 7.4, by the way.

Now Pines and his team demonstrate that ocean acidification studies and projections have failed to factor in a key element that could make it all happen much faster than is presently realized. Yet again, the culprit is the huge increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide in the industrial age, which has caused a huge increase in the amount of carbon dioxide dissolved in the oceans. And that in turn causes a huge increase in oceanic carbonic acid.

Blood ties

The problem, Pines explains, is that the carbon dioxide (CO2) molecules in the sea react with the water molecules (H2O). The reaction forms carbonic acid: H2CO3. 

Breaking news and analyses in your inbox


Please enter a valid email address

Sign up

Please wait…

Thank you for signing up.

We’ve got more newsletters we think you’ll find interesting.

Click here

Oops. Something went wrong.

Please try again later.

Try again

Thank you,

The email address you have provided is already registered.


The more CO2 gets absorbed by the oceans, the more carbonic acid is formed.