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The University of Southampton
Ocean and Earth Science, National Oceanography Centre Southampton

Research project: UK ocean acidification impacts on the surface ocean (UKOARP)

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The burning of fossil fuels is releasing vast quantities of extra carbon dioxide to the Earth's atmosphere, some of which leaves the atmosphere after a time and becomes absorbed by the oceans. CO2 entering the sea makes it more acidic and changes it carbon chemistry. We are interested to study the impact that the changing chemistry will have on marine organisms and ecosystems, on biogeochemical cycling in the sea, and on how the sea interacts with the atmosphere to influence climate.  

We will advance the study of ocean acidification by collecting more observations of how naturally-occurring ecosystems vary between places where the chemistry of seawater is naturally more acidic, and those where it is naturally more alkaline. By contrasting the two sets of observations, we will gain an improved understanding of how acidification affects organisms living in their natural environment, after natural selection and evolutionary adaptation have had time to play out. Most of the planned work will be carried out on 3 cruises to places with strong gradients in seawater carbon and pH: to the Arctic Ocean, around the British Isles, and to the Southern Ocean. As well a making observations we will also conduct a large number of experiments, in which we will bring volumes of natural seawater from the ocean surface into containers on the deck of the ship, together with whatever life is contained within, and there subject them to higher CO2 and other stressors.

This experimental/observational work project will be led by University of Southampton researchers and carried out by a strong UK-wide team experienced at sea-going research of this type.

This work is part of the UK Ocean Acidification Research Programme: http://www.oceanacidification.org.uk.

Dates: 2011-2014

Funding: NERC, DEFRA, DECC

PI's: Prof Toby Tyrrell, Prof Eric Achterberg, Prof Mark Moore

Related research groups

Marine Biogeochemistry
Marine Biology and Ecology
Track of consortium Arctic cruise
Track of consortium Arctic cruise
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