OREANDA-NEWS. Global research on the effects of carbon dioxide (CO2) on the ocean will get a boost as the US Government announced a further $433,000 to support the IAEA Ocean Acidification International Coordination Centre (OA-ICC).

The announcement comes just before the fourth OA-ICC workshop on ocean acidification — held in cooperation with the Scientific Centre of Monaco — on bridging the gap between ocean acidification impacts and economic valuation.  Prince Albert II of Monaco, along with high level policymakers and scientists will participate in the event  ‘From Sciences to Solutions: Ocean acidification impacts on ecosystem services — Case studies on coral reefs’.

“Increasing levels of carbon dioxide in the ocean leads to a global problem called ocean acidification,” said David Osborn, Director of the IAEA Environment Laboratories, which operate the OA-ICC. The ocean absorbs a quarter of the carbon dioxide (CO2) emitted to the atmosphere each year as a result of human activities. This leads to a series of changes to seawater chemistry, including a shift towards increased acidity, a process known as ocean acidification (see The Science box).

“Dealing with ocean acidification requires scientific collaboration to both understand and address it,” Osborn said. “Support from countries such as the US is key to furthering cooperation toward mitigating the impact of ocean acidification on the marine environment and coastal communities.”

The United States is proud to support the continuation of the OA-ICC’s important work, said Nicole Shampaine, Charg? d’Affaires at the US Mission to International Organizations in Vienna.  “The ocean and its resources play a vital role in global security and prosperity, not to mention US commercial fisheries and tourism industries.  We all benefit from learning more about the impact of ocean acidification, so we can better counter its negative consequences.”

While ocean acidification is still relatively unknown by the general public, it has emerged as one of the major global threats to marine organisms, ecosystems, and resources in the 21st century. Ocean acidity has increased by about 30% since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, and changes are occurring 100 times faster than at any moment in the last 55 million years. This could have dramatic socio-economic consequences, particularly for people dependent on marine resources, like those in coastal communities.

“Ocean acidification is sometimes referred to as the ‘other CO2 problem’, with climate change being the other,” said Osborn. “While its effects are global, its impact on specific species, ecosystems and industries will differ from location to location. This is why scientists around the world have to work together.”