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Major CO2 perturbation experiment in the Arctic Ocean

Carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions not only lead to global warming, but also cause another, less well-known but equally disconcerting environmental change: ocean acidification. A group of 35 researchers of the EU-funded EPOCA project have just started the first major CO2 perturbation experiment in the Arctic Ocean. Their goal is to determine the response of Arctic marine life to the rapid change in ocean chemistry. Darwin researcher Anna de Kluijver is joining this expedition.

Sensitivity of Arctic plankton to ocean acidification

The multidisciplinary experiment, which will last until mid July, involves molecular and cell biologists, marine ecologists and biogeochemists, ocean and atmospheric chemists. The scientists expect new results about the sensitivities of Arctic plankton communities to ocean acidification and their impacts on the Arctic food web and biodiversity, the cycling of carbon, nutrients and other elements, the production of climate relevant gases and their exchange with the atmosphere.

Giant ‘test tubes'

To study the impacts of ocean acidification on plankton communities, the Leibniz Institute of Marine Sciences (IFM-GEOMAR) has deployed nine mesocosms in the Kongsfjord off the north-western coast of Spitsbergen (). Each of the giant, 17 m long ‘test tubes’ holds about 50 cubic metres of seawater. The enclosed plankton community is exposed to a range of different CO2 levels as expected to develop between now and the middle of the next century and is closely monitored over a 6-week period.

Check out Anna de Kuijver’s blog

Read the EPOCA press release