Sea for Yourself

An Experiment with CO2 Dissolving into Ocean H2O

In this short video, Hoffman Lab Manager Anna MacPherson demonstrates with simple visuals how CO₂ dissolves into the ocean and lowers its pH. In her first experiment, she mixes an indicator dye — that turns blue when combined with a basic liquid and yellow in an acidic mixture — into ocean water before dropping in a chunk of frozen CO₂ (dry ice).

Right before your eyes, the blue, basic solution quickly turns yellow in an exaggerated albeit analogous representation of the chemical process. In her second experiment, MacPherson drops a piece of chalk — made of 100 percent calcium carbonate, the same substance clams, mussels, and oysters use to make their shells — into a solution of sea water plus acidic vinegar. Unsurprisingly, the chalk quickly disintegrates, paralleling the effect an overly acidic ocean has on its shelled creatures.

This content requires Flash and Javascript.

You are viewing this message because JavaScript is not installed, enabled, or you are using a mobile device with poor JavaScript support.

If JavaScript is installed and enabled, you may need to install or upgrade your Adobe Flash player:
Get Adobe Flash player

To submit a comment on this article, email or visit our Facebook page. To submit information to a reporter, email

event calendar sponsored by:

SEC Sues Goleta Breast Implant Company’s CEO for Fraud

Hani Zeini allegedly concealed information and misled investors.

Goleta Woman Arrested in Hope Ranch for Prowling

Christen Aceves was also wanted for unlawful possession of a bird of prey.

Man Talked Down from Goleta Overpass

The 48-year-old had tied himself to a sign support.

Get Oil Out Founder and Dolphin Sculptor Bud Bottoms Dies

He was a true man-about-town and an engaged public citizen.

Plastic Bags? Throw ’Em Away

Santa Barbara County makes recycling rules tougher in face of exacting standards.