Establishment of the Latin-American Ocean Acidification Network (LAOCA Network)

LAOCASince the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, the world’s ocean water has gradually become more acidic. Like global warming, this process, which is known as Ocean Acidification, is direct consequence of increasing levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) by human activities. At date, the present changes represent approximately a 30 percent increase in acidity. Future predictions indicate that the oceans will continue to absorb carbon dioxide and become even more acidic. Ocean Acidification may affect many marine organisms in varying degrees, but especially those that build their shells and skeletons with calcium carbonate (CaCO3), such as corals, oysters, clams, mussels, snails, and small algae, but is also projected that impacts of the Ocean acidification will propagate towards higher biological levels such as population, communities and ecosystems, indeed impacting on socioeconomic sectors that rely on the services provided by coastal and oceanic ecosystems.

To confront these threats of the ocean acidification on the marine ecosystems, on December 15th, 2015, a group of 24 scientists from seven Latin-American countries, including Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Mexico, and Chile meet at the city of Concepcion, Chile, for to establish the Latin-American Ocean Acidification Network (LAOCA Network). This regional workshop was co-funded by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) through the Ocean Acidification International Coordination Centre (OA-ICC), the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC-UNESCO), the Center for the Study of Multiple-Drivers on Marine Socio-Ecological Systems (MUSELS), and the Millennium Institute of Oceanography (IMO) from Chile.

During two days the group of scientists discuss the strengths and weaknesses of each country in relation to ocean acidification’ research, and also defining the mission and goals of LAOCA Network: (i) to synthesize the information about ocean acidification impacts in Latin-American, (ii) to encourage the implementation, maintenance, and calibration of long-term data-set of carbonate chemistry in Latin-America, (iii) training of LAOCA members in the different action lines (e.g. observation, experimentation, and modeling), (iv) to standardize chemical analytical techniques and protocols for experimentation in order to enhance data quality, (v) to establish a regional node for the articulation and communication between local, regional, and global research programs (e.g. BrOA, IMO, GOA-ON and IOCCP), (vi) to determine and evaluate local and regional scenarios of Ocean Acidification for different types of marine ecosystems (e.g. estuaries, coastal area, open ocean, etc.), (vii) to enhance student exchange and to facilitate access to infrastructure and equipment among institutions and LAOCA member countries, (viii) to design an outreach strategy for communicate the problematic of ocean acidification to society, (ix) to promote the development of cooperation projects between member countries of LAOCA, and (x) to promote the inclusion of Ocean Acidification on the political agenda of member countries, and even through the pursuit of cooperation agreements among LAOCA members.

Finally, scientists defined the LAOCA Executive Council, which will be co-chaired by Leticia da Cunha, (Universidade do Estado do Rio de Janeiro – UERJ, Brazil; Theme leader of the Brazilian Ocean Acidification Network), Nelson A. Lagos (Centro de Investigación e Innovación para el Cambio Climático (CiiCC), Universidad Santo Tomás, Chile; Member of the OA–ICC advisory board and SOLAS-IMBER WG in Ocean Acidification, SIOA) and Cristian A. Vargas (Universidad de Concepción, Chile; Member of the Executive Scientific Council at GOA-ON (Global Ocean Acidification Observing Network) and IOCCP (International Ocean Carbon Coordination Program). In addition, this executive council includes representatives from each country participating: Rodrigo Kerr (FURG, Brasil), Patricio Manríquez (CEAZA, Chile), Patricia Castillo-Briceño (ESPOL, Ecuador), Alberto Acosta (UTADEO, Colombia), Michelle Graco (IMARPE, Perú) and José Martín Hernández-Ayón (UABC, México). A first meeting of this executive council will be carried out during May next year, which will be focused on to plan scientific and collaborative work for this first year of operation.

LAOCA, 18 December 2015.

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