HUNDREDS of marine scientists from around the world are gathered in Hobart this week for the 4th International Oceans in High-CO2 World Symposium to discuss one of our planet’s most serious yet still vastly understudied threats to the ocean’s health, biodiversity and food security.
Held every four years and now for the first time in the Southern Hemisphere, the focus is on ocean acidification, where the ocean absorbs increasing amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
These are exciting times for the NOAA Ocean Acidification Program (OAP) – the Program is growing and maturing! The OAP is the only federal program dedicated to ocean acidification, and was founded just four years ago. It is committed to promoting integration across NOAA to achieve an interdisciplinary approach and fulfill requirements outlined by the FOARAM Act (Federal Ocean Acidification Research and Monitoring Act) and the Interagency Working Group on Ocean Acidification Strategic Plan for Federal Research and Monitoring Requirements of Ocean Acidification. At the start of FY15, the OAP moved into its second, three-year funding cycle.
Awards of $1.3 million this year, totaling $4.1 million over three years, will focus on understanding the combined effects of ocean acidification, low oxygen and nutrient pollution on economically and ecologically important species in coastal habitats.
It is clear that our ocean is becoming more acidic as a result of carbon dioxide seeping into open ocean surface waters. But closer to shore things become a bit murky, as other factors can also change the chemistry of coastal waters. In these waters which are home to many important marine organisms on which coastal communities rely, scientists will be working to shed light on the potential impacts of acidification and other stresses.