Concerned that ocean acidification was being left out of the global climate agenda, in 2005 the Royal Society published a full review of the issue: Ocean acidification due to increasing
atmospheric carbon dioxide.
The Catlin Arctic Survey in 2010 started to explore Earth’s "other" carbon dioxide problem: ocean acidification.
Approximately one quarter of all CO2 emissions are absorbed by the Earth’s oceans, at a rate of more than 20 million tons per day. Although this means the seas effectively reduce the impacts of this "greenhouse gas," the benefit does not come without a cost.
When CO2 dissolves in seawater, it forms a weak acid, called carbonic acid. The ocean has so far been able to naturally accommodate these changes, but as the absorption of CO2 from the atmosphere increases, the oceans' capacity to absorb it without impact diminishes. This leads to a decrease in pH, or ocean acidification.
Ocean acidification risks a catastrophic positive climate feedback by impairing the marine biological carbon pump, which is the ultimate control of the climate system.
Research shows that oceanic acidification affects marine carbon pump and triggers extended marine oxygen holes.
Methane hydrate is widely distributed off continental margins holding several times all the methane in the atmosphere. It is most vulnerable to global warming in the Arctic and the cold Arctic water is most vulnerable to acidification.
The hydrate methane that is escaping increases ocean acidification – especially in the water layers near the sea floor, which up to now were thought to be less threatened (Kiel Leibniz Institute for Marine Sciences, “The Future Ocean” project, 2011).