Rain is a critical component in the process of the hydrological cycle. The water cycle is beneficial to all organism living on this planet. It brings purification and distribution of fresh water that can be used by all living organism. Apart from providing fresh water, it also played a pivotal role in regulating the earth temperature. Regulation of the temperature occurs when water in the sea, lake or any other water body evaporates bringing a cooling effect to our environment. The vapor condenses and rains completing the water cycle.
What is of great importance to these process is the effect it has on our ecosystem. Living things requires fresh water to survive, while most of the water found on earth is salty or in a state where purifications need to take place to be consumable. Ever since the rainwater has been the most purified source of water with a PH scale of 5.0, but thanks to anthropogenic activities, it is no longer the case. Rainwater is now full of all kind of impurities and poses a great all living things in one way or another. The most common of all these impurities is acidic components.
Acid rain is formed when Sulphur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide react with oxygen or water in the atmosphere. The product of this reaction is a substance that has a PH level of below 5.0 in the PH scale. It is introduced into the water bodies in form of rain, snow, fog or even dust. The key components of acidic rain .i.e. Sulphur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide are a byproduct of burning fossil fuels, gases realized by heavy equipment and Vehicles, industries and oil refineries.
The change in Ph. level of water has had mostly a negative impact on the organism living in water. It has led to declining of the population of certain species living in water e.g. fish, crayfish and clamor cause some of them to disappear completely. Though another aquatic organism has either develop resistance or adapt to the changing environment some have flourished with the new condition. From the research carried out by a group of scientist on the effects of acid rain on a living organism, it’s clear that aquatic living organism is the one most affected by acidic rain. Below are the effects acidic rainwater has had on water living organism.
1. High concentration of methylmercury
Methylmercury is one of the most poisonous forms of mercury. It is widely known to cause brain and nervous system damage. Its formation is as a result of the reaction between bacteria and mercury in water or soils. The acidic rain that has the highest Sulphur concentration when it flows to the lakes, sea or any other large water body, contribute highly to the speeding up of conversion of mercury into methylmercury. These methyl mercury are consumed by an organism that is at the lower tier of the food chain. When top predators higher in the food chain feeds on them on large quantities, it accumulates on the fat cells until methyl mercury reaches a level that is harmful to the animals themselves and that’s why their population of the top predators is declining.
2. Declining population of an aquatic organism
The acidification of water bodies has had a great impact on marine organisms. Some of the notable consequences are depressing metabolic rates and lowering of immune response for most the water living organism have led to coral bleaching. And the population of most the marine organism is declining at an alarming rate. Even though some species have adapted to the changing environment, the family of shell-forming animals and even planktonic organism are the most hit by the change in the PH level. There is also a risk of disappearing of a whole species in the near future as more water bodies turn acidic. The more the water becomes acidic it will become impossible for fish to lay and hatch their eggs and this will have a huge impact on the fish population. As the water PH level lowers down the consequence would have a ripple effect not only on marine but to the entire living things on earth.
3. Increasing the level of aluminum
When acidic rainwater flows through a clay soil, it leach’s aluminum and flows to the ocean, sea, lakes, and streams. As this process continues for some time, the water bodies become more concentrated with aluminum. These mineral call aluminum pose a great danger to the fish living on those water. They kill by arousing extra mucus formation on the water. These affect the ecosystem in the water, as more fish dies due to this toxic aluminum, another organism that depends on fish either increases population if they were being consumed by fish or decreases if fish were their food.
4. Lowering the amount of oxygen in the water
For all organism to survive they need oxygen. When this gas becomes scares, tissues and other body organs starts to fail to function. Acidic water that has its PH level below 3.0 tends to have low oxygen. Fish that live in these water are starved of oxygen and as result, their gills are affected. Mucus that grows on the gills of the fish also prevents fish from absorbing enough oxygen. It also affects the fish growth, some servers from stunt growth and thereby making them less competitive when looking for food.
5. Interfering with reproductive life-cycle.
Very low PH level causes chronic stress on most of the aquatic organism, these have caused fish to low weight. In the most case, fish are unable to lay eggs or they lay few eggs. The eggs laid are often a week or frail and they are easily damaged. The few eggs they have laid, have difficulty to be hatched. The fish lets that survived to be hatched are weak and too frail. The fish let have a soft membrane, when they are subjected to water that has high acid concentration, the membrane is damaged.