Ocean Acidification Impacts on Sea-Surface Biology, Biogeochemistry and Climate

Lead Research Organisation: British Antarctic Survey


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Title Glass sculptures representing dissolution in pteropods resulting from ocean acidification 
Description Jennie Speirs-Grant collaborated with us on producing glass sculptures to represent the impact of ocean acidification on marine fauna. We provided high resolution images of typical dissolution patterns on pteropod shells. The sculptures were exhibited at the Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation. 
Type Of Art Artwork 
Year Produced 2013 
Impact The scultpures were exhibited to members of the public to raise awareness of the scientific and environmental issue of ocean acidification resulting from industrial emissions. 
Description We have made the following findings:-
1) that pteropods (marine snails) can act as a sentinel of the level of acidification in the open ocean. We developed a method that was capable of resolving fine scale dissolution on the surface of pteropods and proved that even minor changes in ocean acidification can be observed in the state of their shells
2) that anthropogenic ocean acidification is already affecting the condition of pteropods in the Southern Ocean. We showed that surface water conditions in a region of the Southern Ocean region were corrosive to pteropod shells and that one of the major contributory causes was the input of anthropogenic CO2.
3) that under future scenarios of raised atmospheric CO2, and increased levels of acidification in polar surface waters, the rate of which pteropods can rebuild their shells will not be sufficient to compensate for the level of shell-dissolution these animals will endure. Nevertheless, we demonstrated pteropods do have the capacity to repair their shells through the addition of shell layers beneath damaged regions, induced by for instance, failed predation attacks. This may be a short-term mechanism that can counteract the corrosion of OA although at a high metabolic cost.
4) in studies where ocean acidification (OA) manipulations were carried out on natural Arctic and Southern Ocean pelagic communities, many responses to OA were found to vary between environments, but there was a consistent response with regards to copepods always preferring to graze dinoflagellates compared to other phytoplankton species when in elevated pCO2 conditions. This demonstrates that changes in food quality and altered grazing selectivity may be a major consequence of the predicted chemical changes to the polar oceans. Such altered trophodynamic interactions will impact how carbon is channelled through polar foodwebs, and the extent to which future anthropogenic CO2 emissions can be absorbed.
Exploitation Route We have established that ocean acidification is impacting open ocean fauna in polar regions. This provides important evidence to be used by policy makers when considering global environmental impacts of CO2 emissions. Our publications were included in in the IPCC AR5 working group II report considering vulnerability of natural systems to climate change. They also generated a great deal of media interest, with over 100 news items documented worldwide, including coverage in Scientific American, New Scientist and BBC Online.
Sectors Environment,Other

URL http://www.bbc.co.uk/nature/20461646
Description I was consulted and provided input to the IPCC AR5 working group II report, which considered the vulnerability of natural systems to climate change. The report cited Bednarsek et al. (2012) 'Extensive dissolution of live pteropods in the Southern Ocean' Nature Geoscience as evidence of the impact of anthropogenic CO2 on open ocean communities. The natural interest of the general public in the polar environment also led to our publications receiving a great deal of media interest. I document over 100 news items documented worldwide, including coverage in Scientific American, New Scientist and BBC Online.
First Year Of Impact 2012
Sector Environment,Other
Impact Types Cultural,Societal,Policy & public services

Title Method for identifying and quantifying dissolution of live pteropod shells 
Description Study of shell dissolution requires an accurate and sensitive method for assessing shell damage. We developed a procedure that allows the level of dissolution to be assessed and classified into three main types: Type I with partial dissolution of the prismatic layer; Type II with exposure of underlying crossedlamellar layer, and Type III, where crossed-lamellar layer shows signs of dissolution. This methodology enables the response of small pelagic calcifiers to acidified conditions to be detected at an early stage, thus making pteropods a valuable bioindicator of future ocean acidification. 
Type Of Material Technology assay or reagent 
Year Produced 2012 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact The methodology has influenced future research into the response of calcifying organisms to ocean acidification. We have used the methodology in three subsequent publications. The article has been cited 18 times since publication. 
URL http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1365-2486.2012.02668.x/abstract
Title A database of zooplankton distributions as a function of carbonate chemistry in polar environments 
Description Zooplankton diversity, abundance and distribution was catalogued across large-scale oceanic transects in both the Arctic and Southern Ocean as part of research cruises performed in 2012 and 2013 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2014 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact The database is available on request to the wider research community, particularly those focussed on ocean acidification research. It is presently being used in several peer-reviewed publications of scientists indirectly or directly involved with the present research programme 
URL http://www.surfaceoa.org.uk/
Description Armstrong's admirable speech: 150th anniversary celebration 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact This was an interaction with an artist in residence, Jennie Speirs Grant, at the Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation. It was based around a historical recreation of a speech by William (Lord) Armstrong, originally made in 1863. Armstrong was an engineer, industrialist and also scientist and the speech, given whilst he was President of the British Association for the Advancement of Science was recognised by Charles Darwin who described it as "Armstrong's Admirable Speech". In it Armstrong talks at length about the use of coal and the long term impacts of uncontrolled use of fossil fuels, discusses alternative forms of energy and anticipates the current situation quite clearly within a broader overview of the scientific and technological advances of his own age. The speech was reenacted, following an introduction by Chi Onwurah MP, who also has a background in engineering. There was a discussion and Q&A session with Dr. Andy Kerr who is the director of the Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation. Our main input was in advising on the representation of dissolution of pteropods by ocean acidification, which was portrayed in glass sculptures at the centre.

The interaction was carried out to broaden awareness in ocean acidification research beyond the scientific community. The sculptures were displayed to members of the general public at the Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation, accompanied by an explanation of ocean acidification and its impacts on marine fauna.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014