Experts visit Arctic for CO2 study

The weather in the UK may not be ideal for the bank holiday, but in the Arctic a group of British scientists are battling sub-zero temperatures and icy winds in order to conduct research into the effects of carbon dioxide on the ocean.

The team from the Catlin Arctic Survey are at an “ice base” 750 miles from the North Pole, camping on the ice and collecting samples from the sea below to see how rising levels of the greenhouse gas, which dissolves into sea water and makes it more acidic, are affecting the Arctic Ocean and its marine life.

The research includes drilling a hole through ice around 1.5m thick to take measurements of the ocean and gather samples of plankton as far down as 200 metres, as well as collecting ice core samples for further analysis.

The unique project, which also involves a separate team of explorers trekking across the ice to collect other samples, is giving the scientists a rare chance to gather data during the Arctic winter.

It will enable them to analyse the impacts of acidification – which can harm the ability of marine creatures to form their shells – in cold conditions, where it is likely to be greatest as the CO2 dissolves most quickly. But they are having to contend with extreme conditions to do so.

Aol News, 7 April 2010. Full article.

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