New report shows extensive ocean acidification

Increasing supply of fresh water to the Arctic reduces the capacity of the ocean to neutralize acidification. Photo: Thomas Nilsen

A new study of ocean acidification in the Arctic shows that the oceans are more acidic. The last 200 years the average acidity of the surface increased by about 30 percent worldwide, and the Arctic is particularly vulnerable.


An international research team has been engaged by Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (AMAP) – a working group of the Arctic Council, to conduct the first comprehensive assessment of ocean acidification in the Arctic

The study shows that sea in the Arctic absorbs CO2 from human activity. This leads to increased ocean acidification - a lasting decrease in ocean pH. This change affects marine ecosystems in the Arctic - ecosystems already weakened by increasing temperatures and melting sea ice, the Institute of Marine Research’s web site reads.

CO2 is taken up faster in cold water, and the increasing supply of fresh water supplied to the sea in the Arctic from rivers and melting ice, reduces the capacity of the ocean in the region to neutralize acidification.

Since the marine food chain in the Arctic is relatively simple, the marine ecosystems are vulnerable to changes when external factors affect key species.

Marine ecosystems in the Arctic are very likely to experience significant changes due to ocean acidification. The research one this subject is limited. Nevertheless, the conducted studies - together with studies in other areas – give reasons to concern that organisms – from plankton to fish – can be affected by ocean acidification directly or indirectly.

When marine ecosystems are affected, this will also have implications for humans. Ocean acidification in the Arctic might affect the commercial fisheries important to the economies of the north and it can affect marine resources that are important for indigenous peoples of the Arctic.

Key findings from the report were presented and will be discussed at the international conference “AMAP International Conference on Arctic Ocean Acidification”, held in Bergen 6.-8. May 2013. The study and associated recommendations to decision-makers will be presented to the Arctic Council Ministerial meeting in Kiruna 15 May.