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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]