Ocean acidification is the most substantial cause of these effects. Our project was to significantly acidify ocean water using CO2 and then measure how the acidified ocean water affects aragonite coral sand opposed to open

    Our overall project topic is ocean acidification, an ongoing issue of the decreasing pH in Earth’s oceans. The presence of CO2 in our atmosphere is at an all time high due to the modernization of technology.* This increased presence of CO2 in the modern age has caused an increasing amount of CO2 to be forced, by pressure, into our oceans. The rising amount of CO2 has caused numerous, drastic effects on marine life and their ecosystems as well as the seawater itself.

        When we finished testing our theory over a period of ten days per trial, we concluded that ocean acidification is a mounting problem that greatly affects coral and is extremely hard to reverse. After we tested the first part of our theory about increasing the acidity of seawater, we discovered that seawater’s pH changed from 8.4 to 5 in a matter of minutes. All three trials depicted the same, significant change in the same time frame of a couple of minutes. This discovery led us to the conclusion that ocean acidification can happen rapidly as mass amounts of CO2 are being emitted into the atmosphere. This effect was especially pronounced in our experiment containers, which are more enclosed than the actual ocean environment. In addition, we decided to see how long this extreme acidification would last in our experiment and tested the pH of our experiments two days later. Although, our containers were not air tight and left partially open, our overall result was a pH of 5. This prompted us to conclude that ocean acidification is a present day problem with severe consequences that are not easily reversible or correctable.

        Our next task was to discover just how severe these consequences would be, starting with acidified seawater’s affects on coral reefs and open ocean/beach sand.

     This experiment was noteworthy not only because it is investigating a present day issue, but because it also did not have an abundance of percent error, at only 2.116%. Instead, we have an excess of human error. Much of this human error occurred in the process of packing the two sand substances into their socks, and calculating the mass results after the experiment had finished.

     While preforming our experiment, we encountered the problem of finding a permeable bag to hold the two different sand substances that would let water in, yet keep the sand substances contained.

    Throughout the journey of our investigation, we learned a great deal about researching, designing, and executing a scientific experiment without the guidance of an instructor. Much of our initial time was used doing research. We probably spent 3-4 hours just researching and investigating ocean acidification.

recommended them. We found that this was an excellent material to use. Then we stumbled upon the trouble of making sure our carefully measured sand did not escape as we loaded it into the socks. The best way to do this was using a funnel. This ensured that no sand spilled out around the edges, adding to the mess. Before we came upon this radical invention, there were times where we did spill a few grains of sand, yet neither of us think this had a tremendous affect on our results. However, when attempting this experiment, we recommend not taking the sands out of the socks until after the experiment has been completed. Also, make sure to measure the mass the sand without the sock, and measure the mass of the sand with the sock before it is soaked. Furthermore, be sure to let the sock dry completely before recording the results. This ensures that one does not calculate the weight of the water and combine it with the mass of the sand. These are all obstacles we encountered while conducting our experiment.

   Given the opportunity to perform our experiment again, there are three main things that we agree would be beneficial to the experiment: A) keeping the sand substances in the socks when recording results B) acquiring a valve to regulate CO2 pressure, and C) having accurate pH testing equipment. All three of these factors are key components in our project.

     In our research, we spent a vast amount of time on the difference between aragonite and calcium carbonate. We discovered that aragonite coral is more sensitive to pH change and acid. Thus, aragonite is more likely to be affected by lowered ocean pH levels. To understand the process of ocean acidification, observe the diagram below. This diagram shows how the CO2 in

    Thanks to the combined research of NSF, NOAA, and USGS we know that the rate of CO2 being pumped into our atmosphere is 100x faster than it was 650,000 years ago. While scientist predict that the ocean pH is unlikely to fall past 7.0, there is still an enormously unhealthy amount of CO2 in the atmosphere. The only way we think would help solve this problem would be for the world to become less dependent of fossil fuels and  embrace clean, renewable energy sources.


Our first trial involved 2 experiment containers and both types of sand. Experiment 2 held the first of three trials of the aragonite sand and Experiment 3 held the only trial of open ocean/beach sand. We found that the open ocean/beach sand trial remained exactly the same, at 300 grams precisely. However, the aragonite told quite a different story. The first trial of aragonite sand resulted in a reduction of 6.5 grams from its original mass within a ten day period. We then decided to conduct two more trials over the next ten days, and our results were practically the same.    

We saw a reduction of 6.1 grams of aragonite sand in Trial 2 and a reduction of 6.3 grams of aragonite sand in Trial 3.  Within ten days, the aragonite sand lost on average 6.3 grams of its original mass compared to that of the open ocean/beach sand that retained its original mass down to a hundredth of a gram. In conclusion, we discovered that over time acidified seawater causes a greatly increased deterioration rate of aragonite sand, one of the main components of common corals found on most coral reefs around the globe.

   

Eventually, we tried nylon socks after one of our mothers

the atmosphere gets dissolved in the ocean and its circulation within the water. Due to the abundance of CO2 building up in our atmosphere from car exhaust and the burning of fossil fuels, our oceans are absorbing CO2 as well as just plain oxygen. As carbon dioxide is being absorbed, it is causing the pH of the ocean to drop, resulting in the ocean becoming more

acidic, or less basic. Unfortunately for small sea creatures that create aragonite based shells, this means that if ocean pH lowers (becomes less basic) these creatures’ shells will deteriorate and they will most likely die out. This will thus affect the rest of the oceanic ecosystem, for these creatures make up the foundation of almost the entire ocean environment. Since ocean acidification would affect the entire ocean, this is a real life problem.

* taken from combined research of NSF, NOAA, and USGS published in Impacts of Ocean Acidification on Coral Reefs and Other Marine Calcifiers as a report of a Workshop sponsored by NSF, NOAA, and USGS

ocean/beach sand.