Their second approach will be to conduct experiments using tanks of natural seawater collected from the surface of the sea and brought into a controlled laboratory on deck. The natural seawater (and the microbes it contains) will then be subjected to various levels of carbon dioxide that may occur in the future. This cruise will conduct the largest ever experiment to examine the effects of changing CO2 levels on real world samples out at sea as opposed to in the laboratory.
Professor Eric Achterberg of SOES is Principal Scientist on the research cruise. He said: "We are especially interested how the high CO2 conditions predicted for the future will affect the seawater and the organisms that live in it. Our ship-board studies will give a glimpse into what may happen to the sea as a whole as atmospheric CO2 continues to rise."
In a third approach, researchers from Heriot-Watt University will be studying how ocean acidification may affect deep-sea corals. Unlike tropical corals, these cold-water species thrive at depth in chilly waters. The only known inshore coral reef in UK waters was discovered east of the Hebridean island of Mingulay by Dr Murray Roberts in 2003. Dr Sebastian Hennige and Dr Laura Wicks will carefully sample this reef to collect live corals. They will run a series of experiments on board ship to monitor coral growth and physiology, before embarking on a long-term experiment to grow these corals under predicted future climate scenarios at Heriot-Watt's new cold-water coral research laboratory in Edinburgh.
"Patience is the name of the game in this work cold-water corals grow slowly and it will take the best part of two years to complete the experiments," said Dr Roberts.
The research is part of the UK Ocean Acidification research programme (UKOA), funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and two government departments, the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and the
|Contact: Dr. Rory Howlett|
National Oceanography Centre, Southampton (UK)