Royal connection lends voice to ocean acidification alert
Ocean acidification is known as the evil twin of climate change, but until recently has attracted only a fraction of the public attention. Now Prince Albert II of Monaco has given his voice to the cause with the launch of a guide to the science called Ocean Acidification: Questions Answered. The guide draws on the expertise of more than 30 of the world’s leading marine scientists, including ACE CRC Team Acid leader Dr Donna Roberts. It provides 24 pages of user-friendly information on the latest science relating to the speed and impact of CO₂ emissions on the oceans and their ecosystems.
Dr Roberts is the Australian representative on the Ocean Acidification Reference User Group (RUG), which compiled the guide. RUG was set up in 2008 to raise awareness of ocean acidification and to allow clear and efficient communication between scientists and end users at the forefront of the impact of ocean acidification.
"The earth is 70 per cent water, so what is happening in the oceans is globally more important that what is happening on land," Dr Roberts said.
ACE CRC is sponsoring research in the Southern Ocean that includes monitoring seawater chemistry changes and the responses of key species. "The Southern Ocean is a harbinger of what will happen elsewhere," she said.
As a pteropod biologist, Dr Roberts knows the affect of acidification on shell-producing organisms, and the role that these organisms play in the global carbon cycle. "Their service to mankind is more than people realise."
Dr Roberts attended the launch in Monaco and had previously met Prince Albert in 2008 when he hosted a meeting of 220 leading marine scientists. This time in Monaco Dr Roberts was also interviewed for a short film on ocean acidification being funded by the UK Natural Environmental Research Council.
The new guide states that ocean acidification is now happening 10 times faster than that which preceded the extinction 55 million years ago of many marine species. If the current rate of acidification continues, fragile ecosystems will be seriously damaged by 2050.
It is the follow-up publication to Ocean Acidification: the Facts, which Dr Roberts also contributed to and which was launched in Copenhagen in 2009.
Prince Albert is involved in the publication through his environmental foundation. He maintains a particular interest in polar research, following in the footsteps of his grandfather, Prince Albert I, who visited the North Pole four times. Prince Albert II has travelled to both poles.