UN report highlights Plymouth's climate change research

The University of Plymouth's world-leading ocean acidification research has been highlighted in a United Nations report launched at the end of the Copenhagen Climate Change summit.

'Scientific Synthesis of the Impacts of Ocean Acidification on Marine Biodiversity', compiled by the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity is the most comprehensive overview to date of all existing scientific evidence on ocean acidification - including breakthrough research led by the University of Plymouth’s Jason Hall-Spencer.

The landmark publication adds increased urgency for world leaders to get agreements on CO2 cut backs given the impacts of ocean acidification on marine and coastal biodiversity, and to raise awareness of policy makers on its possible ecological and socio economic implications.

The report demonstrates that increasing ocean acidification reduces carbonate minerals in seawater, important building blocks for marine plants and animals; and that by 2100, 70% of cold-water corals, key refuges and feeding grounds for commercial fish species, will be exposed to corrosive waters. Based on current emission rates, it is also predicted that the surface waters of the highly productive Arctic Ocean will become under-saturated with respect to essential carbonate minerals by the year 2032, and the Southern Ocean by 2050, with disruptions to large components of the marine food web.

Jason’s research which is cited throughout the study follows his major scientific breakthrough revealing the ecological effects of ocean acidification using volcanic carbon dioxide vents. The innovative approach was developed after his team found that vent systems act as large scale natural experiments revealing the effects of manmade CO2 emissions. Hall Spencer said; “This work is internationally significant because it is the first ever ecosystem scale study of the effects of ocean acidification on marine life – no one has looked at the biological effects of ocean acidification on this scale before. It is an honour to be cited in this landmark report and I hope Plymouth’s contribution will play an important part in achieving the aim of highlighting this serious issue and the need for global action before it is too late.”