Video Micro-lecture: Ocean Buffer Chemistry

A video micro-lecture that explains carbonate buffering in the ocean. It includes discussions on the changes in the chemical composition of the ocean caused by a higher concentration of dissolved CO2, ocean acidification and the resulting effect on ocean biota.

Students will learn how oceans behave as carbon sinks by absorbing atmospheric CO2, and how ocean pH levels are maintained owing to the buffering capacity of seawater. They will also learn how increased levels of atmospheric CO2 and the resultant higher CO2 concentration in seawater, an excess of free hydrogen (H+) ions leads to ocean acidification and sequestration of more carbonate (CO32-) ions to keep the system in equilibrium.

Use this tool to help students find answers to:

  1. Describe carbonate buffering in the ocean.
  2. What is ocean acidification?

About the Tool

Tool Name Ocean Buffer Chemistry
Discipline Chemistry, Environmental Sciences, Earth Sciences
Topic(s) in Discipline Carbonate Buffering, Carbonic Acid, Buffer Capacity, pH, Acids and Bases, Buffer Range, Ocean Acidification
Climate Topic Climate and the Hydrosphere, Climate and the Atmosphere
Type of Tool Video micro-lecture
Grade Level High school, Undergraduate
Location Global
Language English
Developed by Prof. David Archer, University of Chicago
Hosted at University of Chicago
Link Link
Access Online
Computer Skills Basic

A scientific illustration of ocean acidification depicting the consumption of carbonate ions and how that impedes calcification. Created for Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory’s Carbon Program.
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