Thursday, 4 November 2010

Ocean Acidification: Coming Soon to an Ocean Near You

Monaco, 4 November, 2010 (IUCN) – Manmade ocean acidification will have profound impacts on marine life, even without a further increase of CO₂ emissions. Latest evidence shows that sea water chemistry is already changing and only rapid and huge reductions of fossil fuel use and deforestation can help restore ocean’s health, according to IUCN.


A new guide, Ocean Acidification: Questions Answered, states that ocean acidification is now happening ten times faster than that which preceded the extinction 55 million years ago of many marine species. If the current rate of acidification continues, fragile ecosystems such as coral reefs, hosting a wealth of marine life, will be seriously damaged by 2050. The guide provides the latest science on the speed and scale of impact that CO₂ emissions will have on the ocean and on humanity.

“Climate change may be all over the headlines, but it has an evil twin, caused by the same invisible gas carbon dioxide, with more measurable, rapid and seemingly unstoppable effects, says Dan Laffoley, Marine Vice Chair of IUCN’s World Commission on Protected Areas and lead editor of the guide. “By answering the main questions people have about ocean acidification, we intend to break through the ignorance and confusion that exist, so everyone is clearer on what is happening and why this is a matter of the highest global priority. “

Ocean acidification, as climate change, is happening everywhere but some parts of the world will be more rapidly and severely affected than others. The Arctic Ocean will be the quickest to become acidified and hostile to a wide range of ocean life, particularly creatures with shells, according to the report. The chemistry of one half of the Arctic Ocean will be changed by 2050 if CO₂ levels continue to rise at current rates.

“Society shouldn’t have to wait any more for its ocean acidification wakeup call, says Carl Gustaf Lundin, Head of IUCN’s Global Marine and Polar Programme. “ An acidified ocean poses a real and major threat to our existence. Now is the time to act to minimise the impacts on our life support system while we still have time. “

Compiled by the Ocean Acidification Reference User Group (RUG) and drawing on the expertise of over 30 of the world’s leading marine scientists, the guide is being launched by Prince Albert II of Monaco at a meeting co-hosted by IUCN. "As new scientific data are generated at an increasing pace due to the growing number of major research projects, it becomes even more critical that these findings are disseminated to end-users, including policymakers and the general public, and this is what we are doing today, “says Jean-Pierre Gattuso, Scientific Coordinator of the European Project on Ocean Acidification.


Ocean Acidification: Questions Answered, is a product of the Ocean Acidification Reference User Group, an Initiative of the European Project on Ocean Acidification (EPOCA).

To read the guide in English, French, Spanish, Chinese and Arabic visit:

http://www.epoca-project.eu/index.php/what-do-we-do/outreach/rug/oa-questions-answered.html