Ocean acidification research hub opens at PML

PML has opened the first European hub as part of a global network to observe and assess ocean acidification and its impact upon the world ocean.

The North East Atlantic Ocean Acidification Hub has been established, with support from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), and will act as the European regional centre for monitoring and research into ocean acidification, primarily within the NE Atlantic region. This is part of a wider research community initiative, the Global Ocean Acidification Observing Network (GOA-ON), which has driven the formation of regional hubs in North America, Latin America, Africa and the Western Pacific to collaborate on all aspects of Ocean Acidification (OA) monitoring research. This new hub for the NE Atlantic will complement these existing hubs.

Ocean acidification is the change in ocean pH caused by elevated CO2 levels entering the water, and the chemical processes this triggers. This change in chemistry has already been shown to have wide-ranging effects on myriad marine life, having detrimental impacts on behaviours and biology, and there are likely many more consequences so far not fully understood.

Collaboration across communities is therefore vital to increase our understanding of OA’s effects in tandem with climate change, to monitor the rate at which OA is happening, and to raise awareness of the challenges it brings to the ocean and marine life, and subsequently the human lives it affects.

Prof. Steve Widdicombe, Head of Science for the Marine Ecology and Biodiversity group at PML and Hub lead, said: “Scientists all across Europe are already producing excellent science for monitoring the rate of ocean acidification and describing the likely impacts on marine organisms and ecosystems. The role of the hub will be to bring all this knowledge and information together for a more comprehensive understanding of OA and its impacts in European waters, to identify where gaps in our data exist, and to support new monitoring activities, technologies and studies.“

Environment Minister Thérèse Coffey said: “The UK is home to world-leading marine scientists and institutions and we are proud to lead the way on research into ocean acidification.

“I am delighted that Defra is supporting the new hub in Plymouth, a brilliant example of how we will continue to drive global efforts to improve ocean acidification monitoring and ensure we best understand how oceans and marine life will adapt to these changes in the future.”

As a first step, a workshop to finalise the goals and scope of the NE Atlantic Hub has been organised by PML and will be held in London in March 2019, but the expected benefits are already clear. The main aims will be to foster collaboration and share information on OA monitoring and modelling across communities, to encourage and ease the data-submission process via the GOA-ON Portal, promote best practices, and to build capacity for further training.

Plymouth Marine Laboratory, 29 November 2018. Article.

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