With the 2012 AAAS Annual Meeting just wrapping up in Vancouver, news stories and features from the leading edges of research are starting to percolate out into the mainstream media. One timely example is that of Dr. Jason Hall-Spencer, a marine scientist at the University of Plymouth who was featured on the BBC at the weekend. Our Science, Innovation and Policy Officer in Vancouver, Dr. Paolo Marcazzan, caught up with Dr. Hall-Spencer at the conference for a brief interview about his work.
The main topic of the interview (and of the work presented at AAAS 2012) is climate change and ocean acidification. In broad terms, increasing atmospheric concentrations of CO2 has two effects: temperatures increase as more heat is trapped that would otherwise be radiated out into space (this is known as global warming), and more CO2 dissolves into surface water to form carbonic acid (H2CO3). As both temperature and acidity increase, ocean species (particularly shellfish) start to die out. By studying areas with naturally high carbon dioxide levels (such as volcanic vents), Dr. Hall-Spencer has been able to predict what might happen if atmospheric CO2 levels continue to rise. By 2100, we might lose 30 % of the oceans’ biodiversity if nothing is done.
Foreign & Commonwealth Office blog, 21st February 2012. Blog.