Ocean acidification and melting polar ice caps



I know that as the ocean absorbs CO2 it becomes more acidic, but do the ice caps melting into the ocean not counter that process?

In: Earth Science

The total surface area of the ocean absorbing CO₂ from the atmosphere is very large and it is a continuous process because CO₂ is always in the atmosphere (and of course, is increasing due to human activities).

Fresh water from melting ice caps *will* dilute the effect somewhat, but water locked up as ice in polar regions accounts for about 3% the mass of all the water on Earth. So even if it all melted tomorrow it wouldn’t make a huge difference, plus then you’ve still got the ongoing absorption of atmospheric CO₂ (not to mention your global sea level is a couple of hundred metres higher, oops).

As parts of the world get less snow and warmer winters, there’s a phenomenon known as albedo which basically is a measure of how much energy (light, heat, etc) is reflected off the surface of the earth at any point in time; albedo falls as snowfall decreases, and the earth warms because it absorbs more energy.

With warming, polar ice melts and releases trapped greenhouse gases, particularly CO2 and methane, into seawater. These gases increase the pH of seawater over time, and the pH increase is carried over the sea by gyres.