Ice-Blog: Polar regions hit by ocean acidification

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Did you notice much about the problem of CO2 in the oceans in the (already minimal in most places) coverage of the Warsaw climate conference?

A summary of the report published recently by the International Programme on the State of the Oceans (IPSO) was presented at the meeting to draw attention to the dangers posed by acidification for ecosystems, humankind and, in form of a feedback effect, for the climate warming which is causing it in the first place. If that sounds complicated, but intriguing enough to warrant further interest, you might want to listen to an interview I recorded this week with Alex Rogers.

In 2010 I watched the start of the first in situ ocean acidification experiments off the coast at Ny Alesund, Spitsbergen, as part of the EU’s EPOCA project. Mesocosms, or giant test-tubes, were being taken out to sea by the Greenpeace ship the Esperanza. (Irene Quaile)
In 2010 I watched the start of the first in situ ocean acidification experiments off the coast at Ny Alesund, Spitsbergen, as part of the EU’s EPOCA project. Mesocosms, or giant test-tubes, were being taken out to sea by the Greenpeace ship the Esperanza. (Irene Quaile)

He is a Professor of Conservation Biology at the Dept. of Zoology and a Fellow of Somerville College, University of Oxford. Amongst his many other titles, he’s the Scientific Director of IPSO. He told me it was a “fascinating coincidence” that the report was published just after the latest IPCC report, which noted, amongst other things, that atmospheric temperatures hadn’t risen as much over the last ten years or so as had been expected.

One main reason suggested is that the excess heat is being taken up by the ocean, especially the deep ocean. And that fits perfectly with the findings of the big ocean survey and collation of data, says Prof. Rogers.

“Mesocosms” or giant test-tubes going into Arctic waters, 2010.(I.Quaile)
“Mesocosms” or giant test-tubes going into Arctic waters, 2010.(I.Quaile)

I also talked to Ulf Riebesell from the Helmholtz Institute for Ocean Research in Kiel, Germany, a lead author of the report and the scientist who has been in charge of the in situ acidification experiments in the Arctic .You might also enjoy in my report from that venture.

That interview is in German, so I’m not putting it up here, but the content will be flowing into an article for the DW website very soon. Meanwhile, here’s Professor Rogers:

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Irene Quaile

Irene Quaile

Scots-born journalist Irene Quaile has been specialising on the Arctic since 2007, when she made her first visit to Svalbard as part of an international media project for the International Polar Year and found herself “hooked” on the icy north. As environment and climate change correspondent for Germany’s international broadcaster until November 2019, she has travelled to the Arctic regions of Scandinavia, Alaska and Greenland, making radio and online features on climate change and its impact on ecosystems and people, and on the inter-links between the Arctic and the global climate. Irene has received several international awards, including environment gold awards from the New York International Radio Festivals and the United Nations. During a trip to the Alaskan Arctic in 2008, she created The Ice Blog. Read Irene Quaile's articles

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