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Arctic Ocean acidification – kids’ stuff?

Equipment to measure ocean acidification await loading to Greenpeace ship Esperanza at Ny Alesund, 2010

Esperanza docked at Ny Alesund to pick up the “mesocosms” to monitor ocean acidification

June 8th is World Oceans Day, so I am taking the opportunity to draw attention to the increasing acidification of the Arctic Ocean.  CO2 makes the seas more acidic when it is absorbed from the air. This process is faster in cold water, making the Arctic particularly susceptible to this climate change impact. A study published earlier this year by scientists from the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (AMAP), based on monitoring over the last three years shows that the Arctic Ocean is rapidly accumulating carbon dioxide, leading to increased ocean acidification. This is having an impact on the marine ecosystem. The probem is exacerbated by increasing flows of fresh water from rivers and melting land ice. Creatures like pteropods, or sea butterflies, are likely to be harmed. Any marine life that needs calcium to form its skeleton or shell will be at risk, followed by the predators dependent on them.

My attention was drawn recently to a video cartoon produced back in 2009 aimed at teaching young people about ocean acidification, a concept which is not easy to grasp. I think it is great! Well done kids!

The animation was produced by pupils from Ridgeway School (Plymouth, UK) and Plymouth Marine Laboratory with funding from EPOCA the European Project on Ocean Acidification (www.epoca-project.eu). I recommend a look. Adults can learn something from it as well as kids! It is a great way to explain the concept, an entertaining video, and the idea of teaching young people about the problems our lifestyles are causing is a key element in securing a sustainable future.  I recently acquired a copy of a book in German with a similar aim: Tessi & Tipo. Die Entdeckung der Ozeanversauerung. (ISBN 978-3-86918-204-9)It was written by Antje Funcke and Konstantin Mewes, young scientists at AWI, the Alfred—Wegener-Institut, Germany’s polar science body. Nice work!

The Oslo-based “Center for International Climate and Environmental Research” has a good summary of the AMAP report on its website. I reported on an EPOCA experiment to measure ocean acidification in the Arctic off Spitzbergen in 2010. Greenpeace had helped the scientists by offering the Esperanza to transport the “mesocosms” for the experiments up north. The story is online here: Scientists enter unusual alliance to study Arctic Ocean.

 

Date

June 7, 2013 | 11:23 am

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