Fundamentals of Ocean pH

By Roger Cohen and Will Happer, September 18, 2015

We are often told that CO2 released from burning fossil fuels will cause dangerous ocean acidification.  Actually the oceans will remain comfortably alkaline and hospitable to life for the foreseeable future. This brief note is a quantitative review of the physical chemistry of ocean pH.  High school chemistry and algebra should provide enough background to follow the discussion.  An excellent introduction to the chemistry of the oceans can be found in the book: Seawater: Its Composition, Properties and Behavior, by Wright and Colling.  More details on ocean pH can be found in a recent review by Tans.

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