Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


EPOCA: Ocean Acidification and its Consequences on Ecosystems

Emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) through human activities have a well-known impact on the Earth's climate. Its other, less well-known, impact is "ocean acidification", with uncertain consequences on marine organisms and ecosystems.

The European Project on Ocean Acidification (EPOCA) will be launched on 10 June 2008. Its goal is to document ocean acidification, investigate its impact on biological processes, predict its consequences over the next 100 years, and advise policy-makers on potential thresholds or tipping points that should not be exceeded.

The World's oceans cover over 70% of the planet's surface, contribute half of its primary production and contain an enormous diversity of life. Thus it is not surprising that they provide invaluable resources to human society. They also play a vital role in Earth's life support system due to their impact on climate and global biogeochemical cycles and due to their capacity to absorb atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2).

The oceans currently absorb half of the CO2 produced by burning fossil fuels. Put simply, climate change would be far worse if it was not for the oceans. However, there is a cost to the oceans. When carbon dioxide dissolves in seawater, it forms carbonic acid. As more CO2 is taken up by the oceans surface, the pH (a measure of acidity, the lower the pH the greater the acidity) decreases, moving towards a more acidic state. This change is called "ocean acidification" and is happening at a rate that has not been experienced for at least 400,000 years and probably for the last 20 million years.

The overall goal of the European Project on Ocean Acidification (EPOCA) is to fill the numerous gaps in our understanding of the effects and implications of ocean acidification.

- EPOCA aims to document the changes in ocean chemistry and biogeography across space and time. Paleo-reconstruction methods will be used on several biological archives, including foraminifera and deep-sea corals, to determine past variability in ocean chemistry and to tie these to present-day chemical and biological observations.

- EPOCA will determine the sensitivity of marine organisms, communities and ecosystems to ocean acidification. Molecular to biochemical, physiological and ecological approaches will be combined with laboratory and field-based perturbation experiments to quantify biological responses to ocean acidification, assess the potential for adaptation, and determine the consequences for biogeochemical cycling. Laboratory experiments will focus on key organisms selected on the basis of their ecological, biogeochemical or socio-economic importance. Field studies will be carried out in regions of the ocean deemed most sensitive to ocean acidification.

- Insights into the impacts of ocean acidification will be integrated in biogeochemical, sediment and coupled ocean-climate models to better understand and predict the responses of the Earth system to ocean acidification. Special attention will be paid to the potential feedbacks of the physiological changes in the carbon, nitrogen, sulfur and iron cycles.

- EPOCA will assess uncertainties, risks and thresholds ("tipping points") related to ocean acidification at scales ranging from sub-cellular to ecosystem and local to global. It will also assess pathways of CO2 emissions required to avoid these thresholds and describe the change and the subsequent risk to the marine environment and Earth system, should these emissions be exceeded.

Led by the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), the EU Framework 7 Collaborative Project EPOCA is run by a consortium of 27 partners across 9 countries involving many of the leading oceanographic institutions across Europe and more than 100 permanent scientists. The budget of this 4 year project is 16.5 M€ with a contribution from the European Commission of 6.5 M€.

For more information and a full list of all EPOCA partners visit:

Kickoff meeting:
EPOCA will officially be launched during a kickoff meeting in Nice (France), 10-13 June 2008.
Further institutional contacts in Germany:
GKSS Research Centre, Institute for Coastal Research
Dr Markus Schartau
Phone: +49 4152 87 1540
Max Planck Institute for Meteorology
Dr Ernst Maier-Reimer
Phone: +49 40 41173 233
The Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI) conducts research in the Arctic, Antarctic and in oceans of temperate and high latitudes. The AWI coordinates polar research in Germany, and provides important infrastructure, such as the research icebreaker Polarstern and research stations in the Arctic and Antarctic for international science organisations. The Alfred Wegener Institute is one of 15 research centres of the 'Helmholtz-Gemeinschaft' (Helmholtz Association), the largest scientific organisation in Germany.

Margarete Pauls | idw
Further information:

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Invasive Insects Cost the World Billions Per Year
04.10.2016 | University of Adelaide

nachricht Malaysia's unique freshwater mussels in danger
27.09.2016 | The University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

How nanoscience will improve our health and lives in the coming years

27.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

OU-led team discovers rare, newborn tri-star system using ALMA

27.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

'Neighbor maps' reveal the genome's 3-D shape

27.10.2016 | Life Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>