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What is ocean acidification? Find out how research at Plymouth is tackling this global carbon dioxide problem (text & video)

Explore the science behind falling ocean pH and the impact this has on marine ecosystem balance

Ocean acidification occurs when carbon dioxide (CO2) is absorbed rapidly into the ocean.

It reacts with water molecules (H2O) to form carbonic acid (H2CO3). This compound then breaks down into a hydrogen ion (H+) and bicarbonate (HCO3). These hydrogen ions decrease seawater pH.

In chemical terms, ocean acidfication is described like this:

CO2 + H2O → (H+) + (HCO3)

The rising CO2 problem

Since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution in the early 1800s, the rise of fossil fuel-powered machinery has been the catalyst for the emission of billions of tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases into our atmosphere.

Carbon dioxide levels have now risen by 30 per cent since the Industrial Revolution.

Scientists now know that about a quarter of carbon dioxide emissions have been absorbed by the oceans.

Monitoring shows that burning fossil fuels has caused unprecedented changes to ocean chemistry due to ocean uptake of millions of tonnes of CO2 each year.

Falling pH

Surface ocean waters are alkaline; on average pH 8.1. But because a quarter of human CO2 emissions are taken up by surface seawater this could drop to pH 7.8 by the end of the century, lower than at any time in human history.

The change in ocean acidity will not make it more dangerous for us to swim or surf in.

Seas are not actually going to be acidic – they will still be more alkaline than tap water.

Ocean acidification is happening rapidly worldwide. We have shown that this has knock-on effects that degrade marine ecosystems and impact fishing industries and food supplies. Plans are in place to ensure that University of Plymouth research is strategically aligned to inform the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030) and embed solutions that slow ocean degradation and build recovery of our coastal resources.

Continue reading ‘What is ocean acidification? Find out how research at Plymouth is tackling this global carbon dioxide problem (text & video)’

Pacific Islands – Climate Adaptation Science Center

Observed climatic trends across the Pacific Basin, rising sea levels, increasing sea surface temperatures, shifts in ocean chemistry with increased ocean acidification, increasingly variable precipitation and wind patterns, rising air temperatures, increasing storm and cyclone intensity, and more prominent droughts, all promise growing stresses on terrestrial, coastal, and marine ecosystems, as well as on human communities. This wide, complex, intertwined spread of issues offer many challenges.

Pacific Islands – Climate Adaptation Science Center. Resource.

Resource type: website

Resource format: webpage

EMODnet – The European Marine Observation and Data Network

The European Marine Observation and Data Network (EMODnet) is the long-term initiative launched in 2009 by the DG MARE (EU Commission’s Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries). EMODnet is part of the Blue Growth strategy, Marine Knowledge 2020, and its main task is to ensure that European marine data will become easily accessible, interoperable, and free of restrictions on use.
EMODnet Chemistry is focused on eutrophication, ocean acidification, contamination, and marine litter issues which are relevant to the Marine Strategy Framework Directive and to global climate change. The data have been brought together for different group of variables in seawater, sediment and biota.

EMODnet. Resource.

Resource type: website

Resource format: webpage

OCEANA

Pollution and contaminants enter the oceans through a number of outlets: offshore oil and gas drilling, coal-burning power plants, aquaculture, mercury-based chlorine plants, plastics, marine debris and more. Once these toxins enter the environment, they can cause long-lasting damage to marine ecosystems and adversely impact wildlife and fisheries.

OCEANA. Resource.

Resource type: website

Resource format: webpage

JPI Oceans

JPI Oceans is an intergovernmental platform that strives to increase the impact of national investments in marine and maritime research and innovation.  By joining forces, JPI Oceans focuses on long-term collaboration between EU Member States, Associated Countries and international partners. The platform provides its member countries with a shared voice, strategic agenda and action plan to address complex ocean-related societal challenges that cannot be solved at national level.

JPI Oceans. Resource.

Resource type: website

Resource format: webpage

Future Earth Coasts

Future Earth Coasts is a Global Research Project of Future Earth, a platform for translating sustainability knowledge into action that includes a number of United Nations agencies, intergovernmental bodies and organisations such as the International Council for Science.

Future Earth Coasts. Resource.

Resource type: website

Resource format: webpage

University of Alaska Fairbanks OARC – Ocean Acidification Research Center

Ocean acidification (OA) is the result of anthropogenic increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide that is later absorbed by the ocean. This change in ocean chemistry makes the global oceans more acidic. Concerns over increasing acidity in Alaska and how this phenomenon will impact Alaska’s Blue Economy spurred the creation of the Ocean Acidification Research Center (OARC) within the College of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences (CFOS) at the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF).

University of Alaska Fairbanks – College of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences. Resource.

Resource type: website

Resource format: webpage

The Commonwealth Blue Charter – “Shared ocean, shared values”

The Commonwealth Blue Charter is an agreement by all 54 Commonwealth countries, adopted at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in London, April 2018. In the Blue Charter, Commonwealth countries agree to actively cooperate to solve ocean-related problems and meet commitments for sustainable ocean development, with particular emphasis on the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), especially SDG 14 (Life Below Water).

The Commonwealth Blue Charter. Resource.

Resource type: website

Resource format: webpage

ARGO

Argo is an international program that collects information from inside the ocean using a fleet of robotic instruments that drift with the ocean currents and move up and down between the surface and a mid-water level. Each instrument (float) spends almost all its life below the surface. The name Argo was chosen because the array of floats works in partnership with the Jason earth observing satellites that measure the shape of the ocean surface. (In Greek mythology Jason sailed on his ship the Argo in search of the golden fleece).

Argo. Resource.

Resource type: website

Resource format: webpage

Biogeochemical Argo

An extension of the Argo program to include biogeochemical observations

Biogeochemical Argo. Resource.

Resource type: website

Resource format: webpage

GOOS – The Global Ocean Observing System

The Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS) is a sustained collaborative system of ocean observations, encompassing in situ networks, satellite systems, governments, UN agencies and individual scientists. We are organized around a series of components undertaking requirements assessment, observing implementation, innovation through projects, and a core team

GOOS. Resource.

Resource type: website

Resource format: webpage

Southern Cross University: Centre for Coastal Biogeochemistry

The Centre undertakes research on the Global Change issues of nutrient over-enrichment (Eutrophication), ocean acidification, climate change, greenhouse gases and hypoxia.

Southern Cross University. Resource.

Resource type: website

Resource format: webpage

WOAC – Washington Ocean Acidification Center

The Washington Ocean Acidification Center was established in 2013 following the recommendation of the Washington state Blue Ribbon Panel on Ocean Acidification.

WOAC. Resource.

Resource type: website

Resource format: webpage

Foras na Mara Marine Institute

The Marine Institute was set up under the Marine Institute Act 1991: to undertake, to coordinate, to promote and to assist in marine research and development and to provide such services related to research and development, that in the opinion of the Institute, will promote economic development and create employment and protect the marine environment.

Foras na Mara Marine Institute. Resource.

Resource type: website

Resource format: webpage

MarineBio

Since 1998, The MarineBio Conservation Society (MarineBio) has been a nonprofit volunteer marine conservation and science education group working online together to educate the world about ocean life, marine biology, marine conservation, and to provide a sea ethic that we should all attempt to follow.

MarineBio. Resource.

Resource type: website

Resource format: webpage

MCCIP – Marine Climate Change Impacts Partneship

The United Kingdom Marine Climate Change Impacts Partnership (MCCIP) brings together scientists, government, its agencies and NGOs to provide coordinated advice on climate change impacts and adaptation around our coast and in our seas.

We collate and synthesise evidence on climate change impacts and adaptation in a timely, impartial and independent manner, and disseminate this information to stakeholders.

Resource type: website

Resource format: webpage

GOA-ON – Global Ocean Acidification Observing Network

GOA-ON is a collaborative international network to detect and understand the drivers of ocean acidification in estuarine-coastal-open ocean environments, the resulting impacts on marine ecosystems, and to make the information available to optimize modelling studies. The network is fundamental to providing early warning of the impacts of ocean acidification on natural ecosystems, wild and aquaculture fisheries, coastal protection, tourism and local economies. The network provides key input to communities, industry and governments seeking to develop action plans, best practices, and mitigation or adaptation strategies to address ocean acidification impacts.

GOA-ON. Resource.

Resource type: website

Resource format: webpage

OAIE – Ocean Acidification Information Exchange

The Ocean Acidification Information Exchange is an online community for professionals involved with or interested in the topics of ocean and coastal acidification (OCA). Our mission is to respond and adapt to OCA by fostering an online environment built on trust, where our members feel empowered to ask, answer, and learn from one another.

OAIE. Resource.

Resource type: website

Resource format: webpage

NOAA Ocean Acidification Program

NOAA’s Ocean Acidification Program seeks to better prepare society to respond to changing ocean conditions and resources by expanding understanding of ocean acidification, through interdisciplinary partnerships, nationally and internationally. Ocean acidification is occurring because our ocean is absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, leading to lower pH and greater acidity. This is causing a fundamental change in the chemistry of the ocean from pole to pole.

NOAA – OAP. Resource.

Resource type: website

Resource format: webpage

Ocean Acidification Canadian Community of Practice

The Ocean Acidification Community of Practice is an interdisciplinary group dedicated to sharing information and resources related to ocean acidification. We strive to provide a space for discussion and co-production of ocean acidification knowledge across Canada. Our members consist of individuals from government, aquaculture, fisheries, academia, and Indigenous community leadership, as well as students and members of the public.

Ocean Acidification Canadian Community of Practice. Resource.

Resource type: website

Resource format: webpage


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