Expert talks about ocean threat

National, Normal

The National, Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Milne Bay will be used as a model to predict the effects of the global ocean acidification, an Australia expert said on Monday.
Dr Katharina Fabricuis, from the Australian Institute of Marine Science, said it was important to understand changes in the sea caused by rising atmospheric carbon dioxide levels resulting from burning of fossil fuels and deforestation.
She told a brief seminar on their research on investigation of coral reefs at a volcanic carbon dioxide seep site in Milne Bay that the rising atmospheric carbon dioxide affected the marine system in two ways.
“First, it leads to global warming and second, it causes profound changes in sea water chemistry,” she said.
“A copy of the abstract of the study showed that the increased carbon dioxide in the seawater has already reduced mean seawater pH by 0.1 units.
“The declining Ph, termed as ‘ocean acidification’, is predicted to have profound implications for marine ecosystems because carbonate ions are an essential substrate for biotic calcification.”
Fabricuis said the good health of coral reefs were of great concern.
“If more coral reefs die, food security will be a concern for the coastal communities as they depend on the sea for fish and their livelihood,” she said.
She said food security “is very important and people have to understand changes in the marine system”.
She said they received good response from the local communities and were keen to work with others of similar interest.
The research team comprised of Fabricuis as the head of research with three male colleagues.
They spent 10 days in Normanby and Dobu, in Milne Bay, to carry out the research.
Fabricuis said the research was in its early stages and was expected to be completed in four years.