International recognition of University of Plymouth research


A marine research consortium that includes a University of Plymouth team led by Dr Jason Hall-Spencer has just received a €3.5million grant from the European Commission to fund vital research into the effects of ocean acidification.

Further detail

Dr Jason Hall-Spencer is spearheading research into the effects of rising carbon dioxide levels on coastal habitats and collaborating with a network of scientists from America, Brazil, Canada, Germany, Italy, Israel, Spain, France and Monaco.

Jason’s project will be highlighted in the April issue of National Geographic Magazine because his data are grave cause for concern, such as an increase in invasive alien species that benefit from high CO2 levels.

Jason said: “It is important for people to understand that we have affected the chemistry of the oceans world-wide. Efforts are needed to protect coastal habitats and prevent ecosystem collapse. We need to build resilience so that ecosystems can better withstand the effects of acidification and continue to provide us with services such food security and protection from erosion.”

The international team of underwater divers is focusing in on a series of giant underwater volcanoes. The volcanoes emit huge amounts of CO2 into the seawater which allows the scientists to work out what dies and what can survive as coastal areas become more and more acidified. Data from these natural laboratories are being used by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to inform international policy on carbon emissions from burning fossil fuels like oil and coal.

Jason said: “It is clear that we need to ramp-up efforts to use alternative measures of generating power and electricity because we have to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide being released into the atmosphere.

“Our part of the MedSeA grant amounts to €180,000. This will allow researchers at the University of Plymouth to check whether our findings from one volcano can be replicated in other vent areas. The EU wants us to do this to get more accurate predictions of the effects of CO2 emissions on coastal habitats.”

A documentary called One Ocean: The Changing Sea showing Jason’s research into CO2 vents has been broadcast in 167 countries on National Geographic Channel and will be screened on 19 March as part of an International Environmental Film Festival in Washington in the USA and at an International Wildlife Film Festival in May.

The National Geographic article is available on and from 20 March 2011 more information on the MedSeA project will be available at

University of Plymouth News, 17 March 2011. Article.

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