Animating climate issues

This week students from Ridgeway Community School are working with experts from Plymouth Marine Laboratory (PML) and the National Marine Aquarium (NMA) to mastermind and produce an informative animation on a major climate issue, know as ocean acidification – the other CO2 problem.

In 2008 the Plymouth school won the European Schools Film Contest against participants from Spain, France, Italy, Greece, Netherlands, Poland and Sweden with an animation explaining climate change and its impacts. Dr Carol Turley, senior scientist at PML and a member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) which shared the Nobel Peace Prize with Al Gore in 2007, was so impressed with the animation that she commissioned the school, with funding from the European Project on OCean Acidification (EPOCA), to produce a short film on ocean acidification.

On Wednesday 7th January Dr Turley gave a lecture to 200 students, including those who will work on the film, with their Art teacher Mrs Karen Findlay. Next week the students will be able to work with PhD students from PML as they research the topic, create a storyboard, film and edit the animation using the audio-visual facilities at the University College Marjon. The finished animation will then be used as a tool to communicate this important issue to international governments and policymakers as well as being broadcast at major climate change conferences and available on the internet for all to view.

Dr Turley commented: “This year is a major year for the new climate negotiations and this little film could play a big role in bringing this important issue to the attention of international policymakers.”

“The issue of ocean acidification is a tremendous argument for reducing our CO2 emissions as it is a direct consequence of burning fossil fuels. This is because the oceans take up the CO2 emitted to the atmosphere, making the oceans more acidic, which in turn will affect the health and sustainability of our oceans and the wonders that they provide Mankind. Essentially we believe that this message, coming from the younger generation, in their own words and expressed through their own creativity may have a great impact on policymakers.”

Additional information

European Project on OCean Acidification (EPOCA)

The EU FP7 Integrated Project EPOCA was launched in June 2008 for 4 years. The overall goal is to advance our understanding of the biological, ecological, biogeochemical, and societal implications of ocean acidification. The EPOCA consortium brings together more than 100 researchers from 27 institutes and 9 European countries (Belgium, France, Germany, Iceland, The Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom).

The man-made CO2 that is regarded as the major greenhouse gas causing climate change is also altering the chemical balance of the oceans by reducing the pH / increasing acidity. “The other half of the CO2 problem” has received little attention until quite recently but it may turn out to be as serious as the more familiar global warming issue.

The world’s oceans currently absorb on average about one metric tonne of CO2 produced by each person every year and it is estimated that the surface waters of the oceans have taken up about half of all that generated by human activities since 1800. By absorbing all this additional CO2 the oceans have buffered the effects of atmospheric climate change. If current CO2 emission trends continue ocean pH will fall further by as much as 0.4 pH units (from its current level of around pH 8.1) by the year 2100. It will have significant impact upon the marine organisms and ecosystem processes and take tens of thousands of years for ocean chemistry to return to that of pre-industrial times. These levels have not been experienced for at least the past 20 million years.

Plymouth Marine Laboratory News, 12 January 2009. Article.

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