The objectives and current research of the European Project on Ocean Acidification

The European Project on Ocean Acidification (EPOCA) is a four-year project that is working toward four main objectives regarding the research and understanding of ocean acidification (Gattuso, J., Hansson, L., and the EPOCA consortium, 2009). The project’s first objective is to study past data regarding ocean chemistry and biogeography. The hope is that these data will offer insight into future predictions on the effects of ocean acidification. Its second objective is to assess the reaction of marine organisms and ecosystems to the changing chemistry of the oceans. The third goal of EPOCA is to determine the response of the oceanic ecosystems as a whole to ocean acidification and the final goal is to predict any major “tipping points,” and to successfully communicate the importance of ocean acidification to the public in an attempt to raise the awareness of this issue.— Julia Levy
Gattuso, J., Hansson, L., and the EPOCA consortium, 2009. European Project on Ocean Acidification (EPOCA): Objectives, Projects, and Scientific Highlights. Oceanography 22, 190–201

 The EPOCA consortium is working towards its first goal by studying past pH level fluctuations and how they have effected oceanic ecosystems. Thus far, the consortium has begun determining past pH levels by studying Boron, an element whose isotopic composition shifts depending on acidity. Scientists hope to soon determine how past fluctuations in pH have effected the ecosystems of calcifying organisms.
The consortium presents a variety of research methods to study the effect that increasing acidity has on marine organisms and on marine ecosystems, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. The most controlled of these methods are bottle experiments, which are conducted in a contained environment, with most variables controlled for. Unfortunately, this method is difficult to use when studying interactions among species. On the other end of the spectrum, the consortium employs field experiments and observations, which are very realistic and provide insight into the relationship between species, but are not controlled.
The final goal—communicating ocean acidification issues—is being carried out in the education system, focusing on a young audience. Among other methods, the EPOCA has created a movie for young audiences about ocean acidification, and has also set up a program called CarboSchools. This program connects teachers with scientists in order to collaborate in informing students about the effects of climate change. The EPOCA plans to continue gathering and assessing data, and promoting communication until 2012.

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