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ETH Zürich

Climate love

Introducing the Ocean Stripes: visualising 40 years of ocean acidification

The health of our oceans is a key element for the stability of the planet's climate and ecosystems, that's why monitoring ocean health has never been more critical. Inspired by the iconic 'temperature stripes' developed by Ed Hawkins, a new set of graphics reveals ocean acidification's dramatic progression over the past four decades. These 'ocean acidification stripes' are visual representations of changes in ocean acidity and aragonite saturation, offering insights into the profound impacts of rising atmospheric CO2 levels on our oceans.
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Image of post in post detailed view

Each stripe or bar in these graphics represents either the pH level or the aragonite saturation in a particular region, with colours transitioning from green to red for pH and purple to orange/brown for aragonite saturation. These hues symbolize the alarming acceleration of ocean acidification, reflecting the rapid depletion of carbonate minerals essential for marine life.
What is aragonite saturation?
It represents seawater's saturation level for the calcium carbonate mineral aragonite. When the saturation state, is above 1, waters are supersaturated with this mineral, while when the saturation state Ωar is below 1, the waters are undersaturated, i.e., corrosive. Many organisms require the saturation state to be highly supersaturated. For example, warm water corals prefer a saturation state of above 4 and get stressed when it falls below 3.
Ocean acidification, driven primarily by the absorption of CO2 emissions, entails a decrease in ocean pH and a drop in the saturation state of carbonate minerals like aragonite. Despite appearing as subtle shifts, these changes hold profound implications for marine life, disrupting coral reef formation and threatening the survival of organisms reliant on carbonate precipitation.
The significance of these ocean acidification stripes lies not only in their visual appeal but also in their scientific rigour. By highlighting the stark contrast between long-term trends and year-to-year variations, these graphics show the urgency of addressing the root causes of ocean acidification.
Constructed from data gathered by the OceanSODA-ETHZ global ocean acidification data product, these graphics combine ship measurements and satellite data, utilizing machine learning to fill gaps and provide comprehensive insights into oceanic changes.

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  • George Kariuki

    6 w

    The Ocean Stripes serve as a poignant reminder of the urgent need to monitor and address the health of our oceans, which are critical for the stability of the planet's climate and biodiversity.

    • We Don't Have Time

      6 w

      Dear Sarah Chabane Your climate love has received over 50 agrees! We have reached out to ETH Zürich by email and requested a response. I will keep you updated on any progress! To reach more people and increase the chance of a response, click the Share button above to share the review on your social accounts. For every new member that joins We Don't Have Time from your network, we will plant a tree and attribute it to you! /Adam, We Don't Have Time

      • Jane Wangui

        6 w

        It is urgent that we address the root causes of ocean as to protect marine ecosystems as they are equally important.

        • walter lungayi

          6 w

          This is a crucial step in visualizing the alarming progression of ocean acidification. Monitoring ocean health is essential for the stability of our climate and ecosystems.

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