Australian Antarctic marine science voyage

The impacts of bottom fishing and ocean acidification are two of the key research projects being undertaken on the Australian Antarctic Division’s marine science voyage leaving Hobart today.

Nearly 40 scientists will sail on the icebreaker Aurora Australis for a six week trip covering 7000 nautical miles of the Southern Ocean.

The second major project of the voyage will look at ocean acidification.

Increased levels of man-made carbon dioxide in the atmosphere are being absorbed by the ocean surface, increasing acidity and reducing the ability of microscopic marine organisms to make their shells.

Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems Cooperative Research Centre Oceanographer, Will Howard, said while the impacts of acidity at the ocean surface are becoming apparent, little is known about what’s happening deeper down.

“We think that at different times of the year some of the organisms are actually doing a lot of their shell making and growth at 40-100 metres below the surface,” Dr Howard said.

“So we really want to capture the organisms at those depths and get a better idea of their shell-making activities and the impact of acidification,” he said.

Australian Antarctic Division, 7 December 2009. Full article.

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