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Ocean acidification lesson one - case study
Ocean acdification lesson two - data analysis
Ocean acidification lesson three - practical task
Ocean acidification - follow up

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Ocean acidification - Lesson one: Case study

  Download the whole lesson and resources

Key question: What is ocean acidification, how is it linked to climate change and why is it so significant in the Arctic region?

Aim: To produce an A-level case study on the topic of ocean acidification in the Arctic Ocean, to include:

  • An overview of key processes
  • Facts and figures
  • Sketch maps and diagrams
  • Location-specific information
Diatom Chain


Watch the audio slideshow “The Science”. This gives an introduction to the process of ocean acidification, which you will be studying over the next three lessons.

The Science - Audio slideshow

Before you start, get into groups of four. Each person in the group should be allocated a question from the list below, and should concentrate on answering this question while they watch the video clip. After you have finished watching, share your answers with the rest of the group and the class.

Tip: You will have to watch the whole clip to fully answer each question – do not stop listening once you think yours has been covered or you might miss something.


  1. Write a summary of the main physical and biological processes that result in carbon being exchanged between the atmosphere and the ocean
  2. What are the two reasons why the Arctic Ocean is so vulnerable to ocean acidification?
  3. How is human activity contributing to ocean acidification?
  4. What impact does ocean acidification have on organisms living in the Arctic Ocean?

Now read Dr Helen Findlay’s blog entries from her 2010 ocean acidification research trip to the Arctic Ocean, where she spent 45 days monitoring levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and ocean, and taking water samples for analysis back in the laboratory.

As well as giving you some more information about ocean acidification and the research project you are studying, this will also give you an idea of how an academic blog might be written, as this is what you will be doing for the remainder of the lesson.


Your task is to write three blog entries as if you were an ocean acidification scientist in the Arctic Ocean. These will form a case study of ocean acidification research in the Arctic Ocean. Your blog entries should include facts and figures, sketch maps and diagrams drawn by you and if necessary scanned into your blog, and specific location relating to the location and aims of the project. Each entry should be approximately 350 words long but no longer.

The three entries should cover the following aspects of the project:

1.  What is ocean acidification?

An introduction to the issue of ocean acidification including:

  • A definition of the term ‘ocean acidification’
  • Facts and figures about the process and how it affects organisms living in the ocean
  • A diagram to show the process of ocean acidification

2.  What was the project in the Arctic Ocean all about?

Specific information about Dr Helen Findlay’s research project in the Arctic Ocean, including:

  • A location map
  • The aims of her research
  • The techniques that she used

3.  What does the future hold for the Arctic Ocean?

  • An explanation of why the Arctic Ocean is particularly vulnerable to ocean acidification, and threats to the ecosystems in this region
  • A summary of key findings from Dr Helen Findlay’s research
  • Information on how ocean acidification can be prevented

There are many sources of information that you can use to help you write your blog. The Ocean Acidification Reference List document PDF | MSWORD is a good place to start. You might also find Dr Helen Findlay’s own summary of research findings (PDF) useful, although this is an academic document so the content is quite complex.  

A pteropod


What have you learnt so far?

Without looking back at your notes, write down three new facts about ocean acidification during the course of this lesson. Share your ideas with your group or with the rest of the class. You could do this by contributing to a shared document and/or displaying them on the Interactive White Board.

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