Articles | Volume 18, issue 4
https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-18-1407-2021
https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-18-1407-2021
Technical note
 | 
24 Feb 2021
Technical note |  | 24 Feb 2021

Technical note: Interpreting pH changes

Andrea J. Fassbender, James C. Orr, and Andrew G. Dickson

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Latest update: 27 May 2024
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Short summary
A decline in upper-ocean pH with time is typically ascribed to ocean acidification. A more quantitative interpretation is often confused by failing to recognize the implications of pH being a logarithmic transform of hydrogen ion concentration rather than an absolute measure. This can lead to an unwitting misinterpretation of pH data. We provide three real-world examples illustrating this and recommend the reporting of both hydrogen ion concentration and pH in studies of ocean chemical change.
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