CIOCS Initiatives: Ocean acidification scientific advisory committee

Anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions contribute to destabilizing ocean chemistry with potentially devastating consequences for human and national security. Ocean acidity has increased by almost 30 percent in the past few decades. Most probably, further significant rise in acidity will continue even if emissions stopped immediately. In its 2007 4th Assessment Report, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) suggests “the conditions detrimental to high-latitude ecosystems will be reached in a few decades.” For example, if emissions continue unabated, 10 percent of the Arctic Ocean could cross the threshold by 2018, and 50 percent by 2050. These changes in ocean chemistry threaten the marine food chain from plankton and shellfish to herring and salmon. More species will be affected as acidification eventually spreads globally.

Food security and economic prosperity are intricately dependent on the ocean’s capacity to support fisheries and aquaculture. Overfishing already threatens fish stocks and coral reefs are bleaching at an unprecedented rate. The social and security impact will undoubtedly be global and in some geographies ecosystem degradation could become irreversible.

The Collaborative Institute for Oceans, Climate and Security works on creating an advisory committee of experts to assess the current state of science, identify gaps, and recommend a trans-disciplinary approach to studying the impacts of ocean acidification on coastal natural and human systems. The committee will frame its work within four key research directions: 1) historical trends, 2) fisheries sustainability, 3) water and sediment quality, and 4) socioeconomic perspective.

Collaborative Institute for Oceans, Climate and Security. Web site and more information.

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