Marine Institute

Public seminar on Ocean acidification

September 11, 2015

CTD being lowered into water. Image courtsey of the Marine InstituteAs carbon dioxide levels continue to rise in the world’s oceans, a public seminar examining ocean acidification will take place on Wednesday, 16 September at NUI Galway. Ocean acidification arises as a result of the ongoing decrease in the pH of the Earth’s oceans, caused by the uptake of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

The public seminar is being held as part of a conference taking place at the Radisson Hotel Galway 14-18 September that will see over 100 international scientists visit Galway to promote and coordinate sustained observations of the water column to reveal the changing physics, chemistry and biology of the ocean. The Marine Institute, the State agency for marine research, technology development and innovation in Ireland, is providing local coordination for the GAIC 2015 international conference (www.gaic2015.org).

Atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations have been on the increase for the past two hundred years due to human activities. This has led to an increase in the average temperature of the Earth, or global warming. The oceans play a role in regulating the global climate by absorbing much of the heat and carbon dioxide. These increasing carbon dioxide levels are making the oceans more acidic presenting a global threat to marine organisms and ecosystems.

Dr Richard Feely of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory, Seattle will deliver the lecture. As one of the World-leading authorities on ocean acidification, Dr Feely will discuss the present and future implications of increased carbon dioxide levels on the health of our ocean ecosystems and related ocean-based economies.

The Marine Institute, Oranmore, has been actively monitoring changes to the marine environment and we have already detected ocean acidification in Irish waters. Our integrated environmental monitoring programme looks at the physics, biology and chemistry of the oceans using our national research vessels, data buoys and other infrastructure.

The Marine Institute has also been actively involved in initiatives to develop and implement strategies targeting sustained and integrated ocean observations, including Euro-Argo. Since the signing of the ‘Galway Statement’ (a commitment by the EU, US and Canada to work together to improve ocean health and stewardship and promote the sustainable management of our shared Atlantic resource), we have engaged in several Horizon 2020 projects that make the vision put forward in the Statement a reality. These projects include ‘The Atlantic Ocean Research Alliance Coordination and Support Action’ (AORAC-SA) and ‘Optimizing and Enhancing the Integrated Atlantic Ocean Observing System’ (AtlantOS), among others.

Dr Peter Heffernan, CEO Marine Institute said, “We’re delighted to help with the local coordination of this important international conference to further ocean observation and our understanding of ocean dynamics. The ocean is the life support system for our planet with microscopic plankton in the ocean producing up to 50 percent of the oxygen we breathe - that's every second breath. Therefore it's essential that we understand how the ocean works and its impact on our daily lives.”

Dr Brian Ward of NUI Galway’s School of Physics, organiser of the public seminar said: “Ocean acidification is now recognised as one of the biggest potential impacts arising from increased levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide and this public lecture is an excellent opportunity to hear about ocean acidification from a world-leading expert.”

The seminar will take place at 7.30pm in the Aula Maxima and is free to the public. Advance registration is advised as the number of places is limited. To register visit http://t9.ie/1gu.
For further information on the public seminar at NUI Galway please email Dr Brian Ward at bward [at] nuigalway [dot] ie.

Background information:

Euro-Argo (http://www.euro-argo.eu/)
Started January 2008 as a project, Euro-Argo aims at developing a European "infrastructure" for Argo to the level where the European partners have the capacity to procure and deploy about 250 floats per year, to monitor these floats and ensure all the data can be processed and delivered to users (both in real-time and delayed-mode). Argo floats collect high-quality temperature and salinity profiles from the upper 2000m of the ice-free global ocean and currents from intermediate depths. With a mean float lifetime of 4/5 years, the European contribution supports approximately 1/4 of the global array and provides an additional 50 floats per year for enhanced coverage in European and marginal seas.

AORAC-SA:
The impetus for the AORAC-SA (Atlantic Ocean Research Alliance Support Action) project comes directly from the Galway Statement which established the Atlantic Ocean Research Alliance. Led by the Marine Institute of Ireland, the AORAC-SA team will focus exclusively on coordination and support. More specifically, for the next five years they will be providing scientific, technical and logistical support to the European Commission in developing and implementing trans-Atlantic marine research cooperation between the EU, the US and Canada. With this international dimension in mind, the seven European project partners are joined by participants from Canada, the US and Brazil to ensure a truly trans-Atlantic coordination effort towards 2020.

Reporting to Commission representatives of the Atlantic Ocean Research Alliance, AORAC-SA will be responsible for organising expert and stakeholder meetings, workshops and conferences related to identified research priorities and support actions. Apart from supporting the implementation of the Galway Statement on the Alliance, the other main aims of the project are to improve the international cooperation framework of marine research programmes and to establish a long term knowledge sharing platform for information relevant to the EU Blue Growth Agenda.

ATLANTOS:
The ATLANTOS (Optimizing and Enhancing the Integrated Atlantic Ocean Observing System) project is gathering together 57 European partners as well as six international participants with the overarching objective of defining, establishing and supporting an Integrated Atlantic Ocean Observing System (IAOOS). The system, which will enhance the output of the existing loosely-coordinated set of ocean activities, is envisioned as a more sustainable, more efficient, more integrated and fit-for-purpose framework for Atlantic observation.

Some of the work ahead for the project team over the next four years includes enhancing ship based observing networks and autonomous observing networks, and integrating regional observing systems and improving the timely data delivery and relevant information products. These and other work packages will contribute towards filling existing in-situ observing system gaps and ensuring that data are readily accessible and usable. Ultimately this will allow all Atlantic nations through their respective institutions to make a strengthened contribution to the Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS) as the ocean component of the Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS). For further information, please visit: http://www.atlantos-h2020.eu