Ocean Acidification

Cause

Ocean acidification is caused by carbon dioxide gas in the atmosphere dissolving into the ocean. This leads to a lowering of the water’s pH, making the ocean more acidic.

Projections

  • Between 1880-1889 and 2010-2019 the average pH of surface waters around Australia is estimated to have decreased by about 0.12.  This corresponds to more than 30% increase in acidity 
  • The ocean surrounding our region is expected to become even more acidic in years to come with the current rate of decrease in pH accelerated to over 0.02 per decade.

Consequences

  • Threats to marine ecosystems and habitats
  • More difficult for coral and plankton to form their shells and skeletons
  • Existing shells may begin to dissolve
  • Coral reefs become more vulnerable and therefore have slower recovery rates post storms or coral bleaching events 
  • Affect economic activities such as fisheries, aquaculture and tourism
  • Impact food security - commercially and ecologically important marine species will be impacted. By 2100, the global annual costs of mollusc loss from ocean acidification could be over US$100 billion for a high (RCP8.5) CO2 emissions pathway
  • Our reef protects our shoreline from storm surges and cyclones, this prevents loss of life, property damage and erosion. If our reef is weakened or destroyed we lose that protection
  • The Great Barrier Reef attracts 1.9 million visitors each year, if the reef is destroyed our tourist industry will be impacted

What the Climate Hub is doing

Mitigation of emissions is the only way to slow ocean acidification. The Climate Hub is working with the region's Tourism sector to decarbonise and protect the reef. 

Whitsunday Regional Council has approved the need for a sustainable destination certification. This certification will provide region-wide marketing opportunities and will help to build the Whitsundays brand as the "Healthy Heart of the Great Barrier Reef". In line with Council's Climate Change Mitigation Plan, this is another step towards lowering the region's carbon footprint.  ​

What you can do

Understand your carbon footprint and work to reduce it. Check out the Carbon Footprint Calculator and find out ways you can reduce your carbon footprint as a household and a business.