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View Diary: The Dirty Secret of World Trade: One Super Container Ship SO2 Greater than 50 million Cars (112 comments)

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  •  Ocean acidification is mainly by CO2 (6+ / 0-)

    All acids that stay in the ocean contribute to ocean acidification. Winds blow aerosols around and currents and mixing  move water around, so the sea lanes don't differ from the ocean around them. The strength of the acid is not an issue in ocean acidification.

    Fresh water which has very little buffering capacity responds very differently to sulfur pollution than the well buffered ocean.

    You need to clean up the following statement, IMO.

    I had read that ocean acidification was due to the increase in CO2 levels, but it seems that CO2 may not be the primary actor in the acidification of the sea lanes, carbonic acid H2CO3 is a weak acid and H2SO4 is a strong one, and it seems that the Super Container Ships are dosing the ocean with SO4 as they go.

    look for my eSci diary series Thursday evening.

    by FishOutofWater on Sun Jan 01, 2012 at 07:30:38 PM PST

    [ Parent ]

    •  It should be fairly straightforward (0+ / 0-)

      to calculate the relative contributions of CO2 and H2SO4 to ocean acidification . . .   (maybe I'll do that later if I get around to it)

      •  Projections get tricky (4+ / 0-)

        because the uptake of CO2 by the oceans is not constant. About 1/3 of the CO2 emitted by burning fossil fuels has ended up dissolved in the oceans to date.

        There's a partition coefficient called the Revelle factor, that is changing so that a lower fraction of CO2 is being taken up by the oceans over time.

        look for my eSci diary series Thursday evening.

        by FishOutofWater on Mon Jan 02, 2012 at 07:53:49 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Sulfate contributes a few percent (5+ / 0-)

        Abstract of PNAS research report.

        Fossil fuel combustion and agriculture result in atmospheric deposition of 0.8 Tmol/yr reactive sulfur and 2.7 Tmol/yr nitrogen to the coastal and open ocean near major source regions in North America, Europe, and South and East Asia. Atmospheric inputs of dissociation products of strong acids (HNO3 and H2SO4) and bases (NH3) alter surface seawater alkalinity, pH, and inorganic carbon storage. We quantify the biogeochemical impacts by using atmosphere and ocean models. The direct acid/base flux to the ocean is predominately acidic (reducing total alkalinity) in the temperate Northern Hemisphere and alkaline in the tropics because of ammonia inputs. However, because most of the excess ammonia is nitrified to nitrate (NO3) in the upper ocean, the effective net atmospheric input is acidic almost everywhere. The decrease in surface alkalinity drives a net air–sea efflux of CO2, reducing surface dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC); the alkalinity and DIC changes mostly offset each other, and the decline in surface pH is small. Additional impacts arise from nitrogen fertilization, leading to elevated primary production and biological DIC drawdown that reverses in some places the sign of the surface pH and air–sea CO2 flux perturbations.

        On a global scale, the alterations in surface water chemistry from anthropogenic nitrogen and sulfur deposition are a few percent of the acidification and DIC increases due to the oceanic uptake of anthropogenic CO2.

        However, the impacts are more substantial in coastal waters, where the ecosystem responses to ocean acidification could have the most severe implications for mankind.

        look for my eSci diary series Thursday evening.

        by FishOutofWater on Mon Jan 02, 2012 at 08:12:43 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Note: that's a max number assuming nitrogen (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Roadbed Guy, davidincleveland

          compounds are removed from the oceans over time by biogenic and abiogenic denitrification.

          look for my eSci diary series Thursday evening.

          by FishOutofWater on Mon Jan 02, 2012 at 08:17:17 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  It seems a bit strange that (0+ / 0-)

          anthropogenic activity would only acidify the ocean.

          So the idea that ammonia could be used to counter acidification is a good idea to bring up.  In fact, I know somebody who calculated that enough could be produced and dumped into the oceans to increase the ocean's pH sufficiently to suck all of the anthropogenic CO2 out of the atmosphere (eventually, it would probably take a few decades) for about $100 billion per year.  

          In other words, remarkably cheaply.

          But still, since human kind is making all kinds of acidic stuff, it stands to reason (based on the immutable laws of chemistry) that highly basic stuff must be being made as well, someplace, somehow.

          And as this incident illustrated, that's totally the situation.  So why isn't this stuff being barged out a sufficient distance and dumped into the ocean?   Sure, it's probably not a panacea but it might at least offset the sulfur-based acids discussed in this diary . . .

          •  NH4(OH) Oxidizes to HNO3 and H2O (0+ / 0-)

            As for adding cations to the ocean, I suspect there are problems with local high concentrations causing environmental damage.

            look for my eSci diary series Thursday evening.

            by FishOutofWater on Mon Jan 02, 2012 at 11:39:30 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

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