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16 October 2008

UNESCO and IAEA Convene Symposium on Ocean Acidification

16 October 2008: The second symposium on “The Ocean in a High CO2 World” convened from 6-9 October 2008, at the Oceanography Museum of Monaco, sponsored by, inter alia, the Scientific Committee on Oceanic Research, the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Committee of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (IOC-UNESCO), and the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) Marine Environmental Laboratory.

The meeting brought together 250 scientists from 32 countries to assess current knowledge on the impacts on marine chemistry and ecosystems of ocean acidification, the ongoing decrease of the oceans’ pH, caused by their uptake of anthropogenic carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Participants concluded that ocean acidification is accelerating at an unprecedented rate, threatening marine ecosystems and the livelihoods of tens of millions of people.

Topics addressed included: future scenarios of ocean acidification; effects of changes in seawater chemistry on nutrient and metal speciation; paleo-oceanographic perspectives; mechanisms of calcification; impacts on benthic and pelagic calcifiers; physiological effects from microbes to fish; adaptation and micro-evolution; fisheries and food webs; acidification issues related to sub-seabed storage of carbon dioxide; economic perspectives of ocean acidification impacts; and the connection between science and policy.

The symposium included invited and contributed talks, posters and discussion sessions to address three key areas: natural and artificial perturbation experiments to assess acidification; observation networks for tracking acidification and its impacts; and scaling organism-to-ecosystem acidification effects and feedbacks on climate. Scientists attending the symposium agreed on the need for further research to understand the implications and impact of the current acidification, and underlined that reducing carbon emissions would be the only effective way to stabilize or reverse the acidification process. [Symposium Website] [UNESCO Press Release]


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