EPOCA – A European Research Effort to Understand Ocean Acidification and its Consequences

Besides global warming, another consequence of man’s use of fossil fuels is receiving increased attention from the marine and Earth System scientific community. Ocean acidification has been referred to as “the other CO2problem”, a much less known but potentially as dramatic result of the approximately 79 million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) released into the atmosphere every day, not only as a result of fossil fuel burning but also from deforestation and production of cement. Over the past 250 years, the world’s oceans have absorbed about one third of the CO2released due to anthropogenic activities. Whereas the chemical consequences of this CO2 uptake are well understood (decrease in pH and shifts in seawater carbonate chemistry) the biological impacts of ocean acidification are poorly known. One of the most likely consequences is the slower growth of organisms forming calcareous skeletons or shells, such as corals and mollusks.

The European Project on Ocean Acidification, EPOCA, isa four-year-long EU project funded within the 7. Framework Programme (http://epoca-project.eu). Launched in May 2008, EPOCA which is affiliated to LOICZ brings together European expertise within various fields of marine research, joining forces to try to shed light on ocean acidification and its possible impacts on the oceanic flora and fauna, as well as on biogeochemical cycling. More than a hundred scientists from 27 institutes and 9 countries bring their contribution to the project, with the ultimate goal to answer the numerous questions associated to a research area that is only in its infancy.

J.-P. Gattuso, L. Hansson, and the EPOCA Consortium. INPRINT- LOICZ Newsletter. 8 December 2008. Full article and Newsletter.

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