Marine Ecosystems Under Stress

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11th October 2010, 12:00pm - Views: 1783

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AAS 30/10

11 October 2010

Marine ecosystems under stress

The changing chemical composition of oceans is adversely affecting marine ecosystems.

Dr Paul Halloran, from the Meteorology Office Hadley Centre, says that oceans have absorbed a large

amount of carbon dioxide and significantly mitigated climate change.

'But while this benefits society, we know that the carbon dissociates to carbonic acid and reduces the pH,

which in turn has modified the marine chemistry,' he says.

Research showed that ocean carbon dioxide changes had modified the concentration of chemicals

needed by plankton and other marine creatures to produce shells. 

'At this stage, it’s very difficult to say what specific changes will occur, but any change within a carefully

balanced ecosystem is likely to have a negative impact on the overall system’s health,' he says.

He will present his overview of the extent of ocean acidification and climate feedback issues to the 2010

UK-Australia Frontiers of Science – Marine Science Meeting being held by the Australian Academy of

Science and the UK Royal Society in Perth, Western Australia, today. The event is part of the world wide

celebrations for the 350th

anniversary of the Royal Society.

'This will be a great meeting because the organisers have realised that by getting scientists from different

fields together, there will be a sharing of knowledge, and the opportunity to look at these pressing

problems from new directions,' Dr Halloran says.

Dr Nick Graham, from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University in

Townsville, Queensland, will discuss the vulnerability of coral reefs to human induced climate change at

the meeting. He will also assess whether local management could ‘buy time’ for these marine ecosystems

until, and if, the climate is stabilised.

He will also speak about the interactions between coral bleaching and ocean acidification and how this is

likely to impact the long-term maintenance of these complex ecosystems.

'Coral reefs are an indicator of climate change so it’s crucial we understand how they are affected,

especially since it has been predicted that the amount of carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere

will exceed thresholds where corals can grow later this century,' he says.

Event:  2010 UK-Australia Frontiers of Science Marine Science Meeting

Date:  10 to 12 October 2010

Venue:  Rendezvous Observation City Hotel, 140 The Esplanade, Scarborough, Perth

Media Contact:  Sue McKenna on 0011 61 8 9254 4044 or 0424 196 771

or Kerry Hodson on 0011 61 8 9447 0756 or 0438 565 086

Sue or Kerry at the conference venue on 0011 61 8 9340 5628

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