April 28, 2009

UK Spends $16 Million On Ocean Acidification Research

A $16 million program launched by the UK government will fund a five-year research study on ocean acidification, BBC News reported.

Oceans are becoming more acidic as a result of CO2 from human activities being absorbed by seawater, researchers said, adding that acidification of the oceans will be one of the major environmental concerns of this century.

The 5-year study will have researchers analyzing and assessing how marine ecosystems are affected in the Atlantic, Antarctic and Arctic oceans.

It will also examine the implications for people and the economies that rely on the oceans for commerce.

Nature and Marine Environment Minister Huw Irranca-Davies said that ocean acidification would be one of the biggest environmental concerns of this century that includes major and far-reaching impacts.

He hopes the research will increase understanding of the scale and nature of the effect CO2 is having on our oceans and marine life.

Ocean acidity is believed to have increased some 30 percent since the Industrial Revolution, and scientists are calling it the fastest change in ocean chemistry for at least 65 million years.

Many experts fear that increased acidification could result in a massive extinction of sea life that inhabits the oceans.

The increases are likely to impact creatures that form alkaline shells as well as coral reefs, which experts say may begin to crumble before the end of the century.

However, since ocean acidification is currently still in the beginning stage of research, the problem has only recently received widespread media coverage.

The Obama administration has stated it is very concerned about acidification and US scientists are leading the way on ocean acidification research.

Additionally, the US Congress recently approved funds for a major research program on levels of acidification in the world's oceans.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and the Natural Environment Research Council (Nerc) are co-funding the UK study.


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