Chemical oceanography is a broad and complex study of the metamorphosis that the chemicals within oceans, living marine organisms, and the ocean floor undergo. The ocean contains a multitude of chemicals; some are natural, and others are man-made. These chemicals enter the sea in a number of ways.
Rivers and streams bring freshwater into the ocean along the coast line. Freshwater brings the chemicals which have been dissolved into it from natural weathering and human activities. Examples of this would be the weathering of rocks or soils, industrial sources like agriculture, power plants, or manufacturing facilities, and pollution from nearby towns and cities.
Chemicals can also enter the oceans through the atmosphere by dissolving or dissipating. Substances like aerosols and pesticides can enter this way. Other ways chemicals can enter the ocean are through ocean exploration, the shipping industry, and the harvesting of oil. Many chemicals introduced to the ocean can be harmful to the ecosystems within it.
Chemical pollution is a threat to the health of the ocean and the organisms that rely on it. The presence of chemical pollution can destroy ecosystems, leaving them inhabitable and killing the organisms that live in them. The introduction of chemical pollution to environments which aren’t meant to house such chemicals, can cause an elevation of toxic elements in the environment. The word ‘chemical’ is used here to describe man-made, manufactured substances which are exposed unnaturally to living organisms. The introduction of chemical pollution to an ecosystem creates an unsafe environment for the organisms living there. Many chemicals pollutants come from oil pollutants in the ocean can also have a negative effect on spawning grounds, lowering the fish count; this happens with other marine animals as well. Of the oil found in the ocean, 47 percent of it has entered naturally by slowly seeping in through the crack in the sea floor. This means that the other 53 percent has entered unnaturally and at the hands of humans. The key difference here between natural oil and unnatural oil entering the ocean is that seepage flows very slowly, allowing the environment to adapt. Unnatural oil enters the ocean at a high flow rate with a dense concentration.
Chemical Oceanographers study the interactions between different chemicals found in the ocean. They utilize instruments like a pH meter, electrical conductivity meter, and dissolved CO₂ meter as tools to measure the dissipation rates of chemicals into the water. They can measure the particle matter from the atmosphere, coastlines, and seafloor, in the ocean as well.
Chemical Oceanographers have the ability to predict and draw conclusions about this earth using such measurements. They are experts in the cycles, patterns and chemical interactions that go on within the ocean. With this knowledge that are able to make predictions about what the ocean was like millions of years ago or how it will be in the centuries to come.
Using modern technologies, chemical oceanographers can draw conclusions about the environment and earth as a whole. The entire world is connected, the atmosphere, ocean, and earth interact with each other trying to maintain a balance. The state the ocean is in is also tied to the state of the rest of the environment. If the ocean is shifting, the rest of the environment will shift as well, in an effort to compensate for the imbalance.
Chemical oceanographers are primarily concerned with ocean acidification. Ocean acidification occurs when there is excess carbon in the air, the carbon dissolves into the ocean, unbalancing the chemical makeup and causing the acidity to rise.
- Darnell, Rezneat. The American Sea: A natural history of the gulf of Mexico.
- "Chemical Pollution". Ocean Health Index. Retrieved 2020-04-28.
- Fassbender, Andrea J.; Palevsky, Hilary I.; Martz, Todd R.; Ingalls, Anitra E.; Gledhill, Martha; Fawcett, Sarah E.; Brandes, Jay A.; Aluwihare, Lihini I. (2017-11-20). "Perspectives on Chemical Oceanography in the 21st century: Participants of the COME ABOARD Meeting examine aspects of the field in the context of 40years of DISCO". Marine Chemistry. 196: 181–190. doi:10.1016/j.marchem.2017.09.002. ISSN 0304-4203.
- Gillis, Justin (2012-03-02). "Pace of Ocean Acidification Has No Parallel in 300 Million Years, Paper Says". Green Blog. Retrieved 2020-04-28.