– Germany launches First National Research Programme on Ocean Acidification –

September 2009 / Kiel. Carbon dioxide emissions from the burning of fossil fuels are not only affecting our atmosphere, they are also changing our oceans on a global scale. Only a few years ago, marine scientists first registered a shift in the chemistry of seawater that raised their concern. The oceans, habitat of the largest continuous ecosystem on our planet, were becoming more acidic. Ongoing studies are demonstrating alarming consequences for many marine life forms, from tiny plankton, molluscs, fish, coral reefs up to whales. Many species will be challenged in their very survival. Under the umbrella of the new research programme BIOACID, more than 100 scientists and technicians from 14 German research institutes and universities are dedicating fact-finding missions over the next three years towards a better understanding of ocean acidification and its repercussions for life in the sea.

BIOACID – the name of the new research programme stands for Biological Impacts of Ocean ACIDification. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) is funding this high-profile focus in the marine sciences with a sum of 8.5 million Euros. Prof. Ulf Riebesell, marine biologist at IFM-GEOMAR and coordinator of the joint project, is looking forward to the challenge: “The funding of BIOACID demonstrates the emphasis Germany places on understanding the effects of climate change on the oceans. We are in the fortunate position of carrying research in the field of ocean acidification to new dimensions and are very excited about the prospects ahead.”

In the framework of BIOACID, marine biologists, chemists, and physicists will work together with molecular biologists, palaeontologists, medical researchers, and mathematicians to investigate various aspects of ocean acidification. In the field of marine technology, engineers will develop precise analytical techniques. The research activities will focus on the North and Baltic Seas, as well as on regions in which marine ecosystems are most affected by ocean acidification, such as the Polar Regions and the Tropics. BIOACID has initially been funded for three years.

The BIOACID research community will cooperate closely with their colleagues in other countries such as the United Kingdom and the USA, which are also developing national research programmes with a focus on ocean acidification. “The changes we are seeing are of such relevance for marine life worldwide, that we would like to move forward in a concerted effort to develop complementary research programmes”, says Ulf Riebesell. German scientists have also played a leading role in the development and implementation of the European Project on OCean Acidification entitled EPOCA, which has started in May 2008.

Project partners:
Coordination: Leibniz Institute of Marine Sciences (IFM-GEOMAR), Kiel
Alfred-Wegener-Institute for Polar and Marine Research, Bremerhaven
Christian-Albrechts-University zu Kiel
Heinrich-Heine-University, Düsseldorf
Jacobs-University, Bremen
Leibniz-Institut für Gewässerökologie und Binnenfischerei, Berlin
Leibniz-Institut für Ostseeforschung Warnemünde
Max-Planck-Institut für Marine Mikrobiologie, Bremen
PreSens Precision Sensing GmbH, Regensburg
Ruhr-University Bochum
University Bremen
University Hamburg
University Rostock
Westfälische Wilhelms – University Münster


Prof. Ulf Riebesell (Scientific Coordinator), Tel. 0431 600-4444,
Dr. Michael Meyerhöfer (Project office), Tel. 0431 600-4214,

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