EPOCA – ocean acidification experiment

EPOCA international team plans a field experiment in Ny-Ålesund trying to determine how sensitive marine organisms are to increased acidity of the sea. 6 nations and 33 scientists and technicians will be working in Ny-Ålesund during the pelagic experiment this spring.

The overall goal of the European Project on OCean Acidification (EPOCA) is to fill the numerous gaps in the understanding of the effects and implications of ocean acidification. EPOCA will determine the sensitivity of marine organisms, communities and ecosystems to ocean acidification. The project aims at:

  • documenting the changes in ocean chemistry and biogeography across space and time.
  • determining the sensitivity of marine organisms, communities and ecosystems to ocean acidification.
  • integrating results on the impact of ocean acidification on marine ecosystems in biogeochemical, sediment, and coupled ocean-climate models to better understand and predict the responses of the Earth system to ocean acidification.
  • assessing uncertainties, risks and thresholds (“tipping points”) related to ocean acidification at scales ranging from subcellular to ecosystem and local to global.

Molecular to biochemical, physiological and ecological approaches will be combined with laboratory and field-based perturbation experiments to quantify biological responses to ocean acidification, assess the potential for adaptation, and determine the consequences for biogeochemical cycling.

The key equipment is KOSMOS (Kiel Off-Shore Mesocosm for future Ocean Simulations) and the plan is to place 9 of them in Kolhamna, west of Ny-Ålesund. Mesocosms will be used for sampling during the 6-week period, the data will be used for simulating different future ocean acidification acenarios. In case of insufficient biomass in the mesocosms the group is prepared to trigger a “spring bloom” by fertilizing the enclosed water masses.

Source and contact: Michael Meyerhöfer (mmeyerhoefer@ifm-geomar.de)

More information: EPOCA website

Michael Meyerhöfer, Svalbard Science Forum, 13 April 2010. Article.

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