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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Cited articles

Archer, D. E., Kheshgi, H., and Maier-Reimer, E.: Dynamics of fossil fuel CO2 neutralization by marine CaCO3, Global Biogeochem. Cy., 12, 259–276, https://doi.org/10.1029/98GB00744, 1998. 
Bates, N., Astor, Y., Church, M. J., Currie, K., Dore, J., Gonaález-Dávila, M., Lorenzoni, L., Muller-Karger, F., Olafsson, J., and Santana-Casiano, J. M.: A time-series view of changing ocean chemistry due to ocean uptake of anthropogenic CO2 and ocean acidification, Oceanography, 27, 126–141, https://doi.org/10.5670/oceanog.2014.16, 2014. 
Bates, R. G.: pH measurements in the marine environment, Pure Appl. Chem., 54, 229–232, https://doi.org/10.1351/pac198254010229, 1982. 
Bates, R. G. and Guggenheim, E. A.: Report on the standardization of pH and related terminology, Pure Appl. Chem., 1, 163–168, https://doi.org/10.1351/pac196001010163, 1960. 
Baucke, F. G. K.: New IUPAC recommendations on the measurement of pH – background and essentials, Anal. Bioanal. Chem., 374, 772–777, https://doi.org/10.1007/s00216-002-1523-4, 2002. 
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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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