Researcher heads to Capitol Hill “Science fair”

USF seawater chemist Bob Byrne has seen his share of science fairs over the years, but none as prestigious or as important as the one that will introduce members of Congress to cutting-edge scientific work, including Byrne’s leading-edge research on ocean acidification.

Byrne is one of a small group of American scientists and mathematicians selected to participate in the April 14 Coalition for National Science Funding Exhibition and Reception at the Rayburn House Office Building – more casually known by some scientists as Congress’ science fair. The exhibition is a rare opportunity for scientists to display their work for members of Congress, informing them on both the issues they are investigating and the nation’s needs in meeting its scientific research and education goals.

The invitation comes on the heels of publication of Byrne’s major finding of that seawater in a vast section of the northeastern Pacific Ocean shows signs of increased acidity brought on by manmade carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Byrne is the principal investigator in the research, which was published in January in the American Geophysical Union’s journal Geophysical Research Letters.

The project analyzed Pacific seawater between Oahu, Hawaii, and Kodiak, Alaska and provides the first direct measurements of basin-wide pH changes in the ocean’s depths and at its surface, producing the first direct evidence of acidification across an entire ocean basin. Ocean acidification carries with it serious implications for the ecology of the marine food web.

Byrne will be exhibiting his work in conjunction with the American Geological Institute, the Geological Society of America and American Geophysical Union. His research is one of just 37 scientific projects from the nation’s leading research universities to be featured.

Vickie Chachere, USF News, 7 April 2010. Full article.

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