Archive for the 'Projects' Category

Plastic reefs could offer a buffer to climate change and protect marine life from rising acid levels

Photo credit: Chiara Lombardi (ENEA)

Putting plastic into the sea may seem a strange way to address climate change, but for one research team it could offer the chance to preserve marine life.

Experts have created a series of artificial reefs in the Mediterranean Sea that they hope will help to protect the underwater environment from further destruction. Researchers hope that synthetic coralline algae reefs will offer protection against ocean acidification, as well as providing a framework for natural reefs to grow on. They have only been in place for a month, but there are already positive signs that the project is working.

Dr Federica Ragazzola, a marine biologist at the University of Portsmouth, joined forces with an Italian government sponsored research and development agency for the project.

Coralline algae performs a similar ecological function to its more widely publicised namesake, corals, in the Mediterranean. They form reefs from calcium carbonate, the main chemical in chalk and antacid tablets, which provide shelter to a diverse range of marine life. But, like corals, they are also vulnerable to erosion from increasing levels of acidity.

Continue reading ‘Plastic reefs could offer a buffer to climate change and protect marine life from rising acid levels’

Rubber algae help create first artificial reef in Mediterranean

Photo credit: Matteo Nannini

Tiny, artificial algae are being deployed in the first such effort to restore reefs in the Mediterranean Sea.

They look like coralline algae, which have a similar ecological function to corals: forming reefs using calcium carbonate structures that create diverse and complex environments.

“Coralline algae are particularly ecologically important in shallow, temperate regions,” says Federica Ragazzola at the University of Portsmouth, UK. They are ecosystem engineers, providing habitats for numerous small invertebrates and shelter from physical stresses such as wave action, because coralline algae live in exposed areas.

However, as the reefs they build are made from a soluble form of calcium carbonate, they are vulnerable to an ongoing ocean acidification.

So Ragazzola partnered with researchers from the Italian National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Economic Development (ENEA) to explore whether artificial coralline algae reefs can protect the organisms living on them against ocean acidification, as well as acting as scaffolds for natural coralline algae reefs to grow.

Continue reading ‘Rubber algae help create first artificial reef in Mediterranean’

Colour-changing T-shirts use cabbages to reveal the startling effects of climate change

The T-shirt changes colour to reflect pH water balance which is used as a physical representation of climate change.

Nature doesn’t have a voice. It has signifiers of change and environmental damage, but because they can’t be seen easily, they’re often overlooked or denied by even the highest positions of power.

To make this damage more visible, and show your support for the planet, there is now a T-shirt that lets you “wear climate change” on your sleeve. Designed to coincide with World Environment Day, chemically-reactive fashion brand The Unseen has partnered with The Lost Explorer to create a T-shirt that changes colour to reflect the pH balance of water. In particular, the cotton and hemp shirts, scoured in red cabbage, reflect the acidic and alkaline values found in local water.

Ocean acidification and acid raid are both products of climate change. The ocean absorbs much of the heat from excess CO2 in our atmosphere and, in the process, the chemical composition of seawater changes. When you mix carbon dioxide with water, it creates carbonic acid. The presence of carbonic acid kickstarts a process that lowers the pH of the ocean, making it more acidic. This has a dramatic effect on marine organisms, including oysters, clams, corals and plankton. When these organisms begin to dwindle, the whole marine ecosystem begins to shift.

Continue reading ‘Colour-changing T-shirts use cabbages to reveal the startling effects of climate change’

Ocean Acidication Africa Network: “Let’s work together – Increasing awareness about ocean acidification”

Ocean acidification may be defined as the global decrease in ocean pH due to the absorption of atmospheric carbon dioxide. Research findings of the past decade have led to mounting concern that
rising atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations will cause changes in the ocean’s carbonate chemistry system, and that these changes will affect some of the most fundamental biological and geological processes of the sea.


OA AFRICA NETWORK is composed by scientists interested in conducting research on ocean acidification monitoring and observation in Africa. OA-AFRICA will provide a platform for sharing
ideas, designing collaborative research programs, troubleshooting challenges, and facilitate international collaboration and support. Our effort for 2017 world ocean day (June 8) is to create an
awareness of OA impact and contribute to the actualization of SDG 14.3 while promoting our network.

Continue reading ‘Ocean Acidication Africa Network: “Let’s work together – Increasing awareness about ocean acidification”’

Ocean acidification makes salmon lost ability to sense predators, according to researchers from the University of Washington

Ocean acidification has affected more than just the increase of pH in the ocean, but it also made salmon ability to sense predators decreasing. This makes salmon unable to avoid the predator, moreover, they become less afraid of the predator.

The increase of carbon dioxide uptake in the ocean from the atmosphere has resulted ocean acidification, which affected the sense of smell in the sea creatures, including salmon. This alters salmon ability to sense the predator and drawing them to the predator, according to the recent research from the University of Washington College of Environment.

Previously, salmon were able to smell their predator and avoided them. As the ocean become more acidic, they become unable to smell the danger. As a result, the salmon ability to sense predator has diminished.

The researchers, under principal investigator, the Professor from Department of Occupational and Health Sciences at the University of Washington, Evan Gallagher presented their findings of the decrease of salmon ability to sense a predator in the 2017 Ocean Acidification Symposium.The symposium was held on 22 May 2017 at the University of Washington Center for Urban Horticulture in Seattle, WA.

Continue reading ‘Ocean acidification makes salmon lost ability to sense predators, according to researchers from the University of Washington’

The ocean acidification day [June 8, 2017]: call for interest

Show your support to the OA-Africa network by joining the ocean acidification day on the June 8, 2017.

Ocean acidification is now identified as major threat to marine ecosystems and is one of the SDGs target: “14.3 Minimize and address the impacts of ocean acidification, including through enhanced scientific cooperation at all levels”. When it comes to understanding, projecting and anticipating the impacts of ocean acidification, some countries or even continents are left relatively unexplored. For example, no studies were performed on ocean acidification impacts along the coasts of Africa despite its biological and socio-economical vulnerability to future global changes.

This was the rationale behind the development of an ocean acidification Africa network. OA-Africa has been developed over three training courses (South Africa, Mozambique, Mauritius) and recently launched at a recent ocean acidification capacity building and networking workshop in Dakar, Senegal (13 – 16 February 2017). Prominent researchers representing several African coastal countries discussed the coordination and regional priorities for ocean acidification activities on the continent. Broadly, the network aims to coordinate on ocean acidification related research and monitoring, provide information and guidance to stakeholders and policy makers, and promote and advance ocean research through outreach and capacity building initiatives.

Continue reading ‘The ocean acidification day [June 8, 2017]: call for interest’

Arctic Mission – Call for applications

Project initiator: Ms Laura Hampton, high latitude sailor and multi-media science journalist specialising in the oceans and Poles for the New Scientist and the BBC

Application deadline: 8 February 2017!

Arctic Mission involves three North Pole-related endeavours over the coming years, with scientific discovery at their heart.

In July 2017 we will attempt the first voyage by sailing yacht to the North Geographic Pole, the aim being to demonstrate to a global audience the extent of seasonal sea-ice loss (to date up to 40%) in the international waters of the Central Arctic Ocean (CAO).

We are offering three berths to researchers with interests in the Central Arctic Ocean with respect to fish (especially detection), plankton; and oceanography. A cetologist is confirmed.

The science onboard the yachts will be communicated daily to Arctic Mission’s audience through our media partners and specialist communications agencies. The aim is to begin the transformation of public understanding about the existence, function and value of the marine life in the CAO, with its long term protection the ultimate goal in the years ahead.

It should be understood that  priority will be given to researchers committing to embrace the opportunity to communicate their scientific work while aboard, and also committing to swift publication of results.

Continue reading ‘Arctic Mission – Call for applications’

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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

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