Ocean acidity – new Google Earth tour

A new guide on ocean acidification and a new tour on Google Earth, showing the speed and scale of impact CO2 emissions will have on the ocean, is being launched today at The Ocean in a High CO2 World Symposium in Monterey, California.

The tour that will fly the viewer around Google Earth to explain ocean acidification and its rapid effects on marine life and humanity was introduced at the event. The chemistry of one half of the Arctic Ocean, for example, will be changed by 2050 if CO2 levels continue to rise at current rates.

“The new knowledge and multimedia guides released today open up ocean acidification so everyone can explore from their desktops what our current carbon dioxide emissions may mean to the ocean, and to us, in the very near future,” says Dan Laffoley, Marine Vice Chair of IUCN’s World Commission on Protected Areas and Chair of Europe’s Ocean Acidification Reference User Group.

The new guide, Ocean Acidification: The knowledge base 2012 provides the latest science and identifies the actions needed by governments to prevent the dangerous spread of ocean acidification.

According to the publication, ocean acidity has increased by 30% since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution and if CO2 emissions continue to increase, the rate of acidification will accelerate in the coming decades. This rate of change is many times faster than anything experienced in the last 250 million years.

Major studies on ocean acidification are currently underway in Australia, China, the European Union, Japan, Korea, Monaco, the UK and the US. This is the last in a series of guides for policy makers compiled by the Ocean Acidification Reference User Group (RUG) and drawing on the expertise of over 30 of the world’s leading marine scientists.

In its previous publication Ocean Acidification: Questions Answered, the group claimed that ocean acidification is happening 10 times faster than that which preceded the extinction 55 million years ago of many marine species. If the current rate of acidification continues, fragile ecosystems such as coral reefs, hosting a wealth of marine life, will be seriously damaged by 2050, according to the study.

His Serene Highness Prince Albert II of Monacoalso announced a new international coordination centre on ocean acidification on the final day of the conference in Monterey. At a cost of USD 2 million for three years, the centre – based in Monaco – will help coordinate research and link science and policy.

Prince Albert IItold the conference, “Supported by the Government of Monaco and my Foundation, an Ocean Acidification International Coordination Centre has been set up in Monaco within the premises of the International Atomic Energy Agency’s Marine Environment Laboratory. It represents not only an enormous source of pride for myself but also gives me real hopes for the future.”

The four-day symposium brought together the world’s leading experts in a research field that is expanding rapidly. The first such international symposium in 2004 attracted just 125 researchers. In 2008, the event brought 227 academics to Monaco. This year, 547 researchers descended on Monterey. For the first time economic and policy issues featured prominently.

For more information or to set up interviews, please contact:
• Borjana Pervan, IUCN Media Relations, m +41 79 857 4072, email borjana.pervan@iucn.org

IUCN, 1 October 2012. Press release.

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