Ocean acidification

The term ocean acidification is used to describe the ongoing decrease in ocean pH caused by human CO2 emissions, such as the burning of fossil fuels. This is having an adverse effect on many important marine species such as corals, oysters, crabs and plankton, and due to the unprecedented rate of acidification they may not have time to evolve mechanisms to cope with the changing chemistry of the ocean.

PML scientists have been at the forefront of developing the science of ocean acidification and pivotal in placing the issues surrounding the science firmly onto the international agenda.

We are working to advance understanding of ocean acidification, from studies of how the chemistry of the ocean is changing to how marine organisms, biodiversity and ecosystems respond to ocean acidification, thus improving knowledge of their resistance or susceptibility to acidification, to help inform future management practices.

A key finding has been that the impact of ocean acidification is strongly dependent on interaction with other stressors associated with global change, notably temperature increases and we have shown that ocean acidification is having a marked effect upon ocean chemistry, most notably the nitrogen cycle and production of climate-relevant trace gases such as DMS and halocarbons.

We are also developing techniques to assess ocean acidification using satellites, which will enable monitoring on a global scale with a relatively low-cost when compared to in situ measurements.

Making a difference

Our research has raised the profile of ocean acidification and informed policy at an international level and has contributed to discussions at several major events including several UNFCCC Conference of the Parties, including providing input to the 2015 Paris agreement. At a national level, we gave extensive written and oral evidence to the recent UK parliamentary inquiry on ocean acidification.

Projects

Marine Ecosystems Research Programme (MERP)

Marine Ecosystems Research Programme (MERP)

Contact: Dr Paul Somerfield

The Marine Ecosystems Research Programme (MERP) will address key knowledge gaps in marine ecosystem research. By bringing together existing data...

Marine Ecosystem Evolution in a Changing Environment (MEECE)
Completed

Marine Ecosystem Evolution in a Changing Environment (MEECE)

Contact: Professor Icarus Allen

MEECE was a European FP7 project which used predictive models to explore the impacts of both climate drivers, such as acidification and temperature...

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Ocean acidification: yes, it’s serious

A new international report “An updated synthesis of the impacts of ocean acidification on marine biodiversity” shows beyond doubt that ocean acidification is an issue of serious environmental and policy concern.

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PML supports $2 million XPRIZE seeking new sensors to study ocean acidification

PML has been named official supporter of the Wendy Schmidt Ocean Health XPRIZE foundation, following the exciting announcement this week that XPRIZE will be offering a $2-million prize challenge to an innovator who can build cheaper and better pH sensors in the quest for a...

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Microscopic marine creatures may lose teeth as ocean acidification kicks in

PML scientists meet with other top marine experts from around the globe in St Andrews, Scotland, this week to share their knowledge on the threat posed by increasing amounts of carbon dioxide entering the sea.

Related publications

  1. Land, PE; Shutler, JD; Findlay, HS; Girard-Ardhuin, F; Sabia, R; Reul, N; Piollé, J-F; Chapron, B; Quilfen, Y; Salisbury, J; Vandemark, D; Bellerby, R; Bhadury, P. 2015 Salinity from Space Unlocks Satellite-Based Assessment of Ocean Acidification. Environmental Science & Technology, 49 (4). 1987-1994. 10.1021/es504849s
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  2. Yakushev, EV; Protsenko, EA; Bruggeman, J; Wallhead, P; Pakhomova, SV; Yakubov, SK; Bellerby, RGJ; Couture, R-M. 2017 Bottom RedOx Model (BROM v.1.1): a coupled benthic–pelagic model for simulation of water and sediment biogeochemistry. Geoscientific Model Development, 10 (1). 453-482. 10.5194/gmd-10-453-2017
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  3. Currie, AR; Tait, K; Parry, HE; de Francisco-Mora, B; Hicks, N; Osborn, AM; Widdicombe, S; Stahl, H. 2017 Marine Microbial Gene Abundance and Community Composition in Response to Ocean Acidification and Elevated Temperature in Two Contrasting Coastal Marine Sediments. Frontiers in Microbiology, 8. 10.3389/fmicb.2017.01599
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  4. Fernandes, JA; Papathanasopoulou, E; Hattam, C; Queiros, AM; Cheung, WWWL; Yool, A; Artioli, Y; Pope, EC; Flynn, KJ; Merino, G; Calosi, P; Beaumont, NJ; Austen, MC; Widdicombe, S; Barange, M. 2016 Estimating the ecological, economic and social impacts of ocean acidification and warming on UK fisheries. Fish and Fisheries, 18 (3). 389-411. 10.1111/faf.12183
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  5. Calosi, P; Melatunan, S; Turner, LM; Artioli, Y; Davidson, RL; Byrne, JJ; Viant, MR; Widdicombe, S; Rundle, SD. 2017 Regional adaptation defines sensitivity to future ocean acidification. Nature Communications, 8. 13994. 10.1038/ncomms13994
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