Since the beginning of the industrial revolution, about one third of the CO2 released in the atmosphere by anthropogenic activities has been absorbed by the world’s oceans, which play a key role in moderating climate change. As CO2 reacts with seawater, it generates dramatic changes in carbonate chemistry, including decreases in pH and in the concentration of carbonate ions. The impacts of this phenomenon, known as “ocean acidification”, on marine ecosystems are only poorly known. One of the most likely consequences is the slower growth of organisms forming calcareous skeletons or shells, such as corals and mollusks. More information on the effects of ocean acidification is a major environmental priority because of the threat it poses to certain processes, organisms and ecosystems.
The research efforts of EPOCA are divided into four themes:
Interactions between the different themes work both ways. For example, Theme 3 exploits information from Theme 2 to help predict future changes in ocean biogeochemistry and ecosystems, but results from Theme 3 also feed back into Theme 2 by providing critical information on the expected temporal and spatial changes of ocean acidification and thus enable meaningful experimental designs.
EPOCA strives for an active international cooperation on ocean acidification and coordinates with major national and international projects and programmes. In particular, its International Scientific Advisory Panel, with members from the US and Korea, and one of the EPOCA partners (the intergovernmental organization IOC-UNESCO) ensure that ocean acidification research being carried out through this project is coordinated with the research activities of non-EU scientists.