Not in-depth, but its thermodynamics, mathematics, and chemistry (in other words, you can figure it out if you want to). So, the short version, the ocean is entirely too complex to suppose driving your SUV matters to it.

Watts Up With That?

Guest essay by James R. Barrante, Ph.D.

Emeritus Professor of Physical Chemistry, Southern Connecticut State University, New Haven, CT

It is well-known that ocean pH has decreased from approximately 8.2 pH units to 8.1 pH units in the last 150 years. One explanation is that the increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels is responsible. This is based on a law of physical chemistry, known as Henry’s Law, that states: if the partial pressure of a gas over a solution is increased, the concentration of the dissolved gas in the solution will increase. Since dissolved CO2 is a weak acid, one would expect the pH of the oceans to decrease.

Describing Henry’s Law in this simple manner, however, is a very narrow interpretation of the boundaries of the system. For example, the above statement of Henry’s Law is only valid, if the temperature of the…

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