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United Kingdom Ocean Acidification (UKOA) research programme

Who funds the programme?

The programme is jointly funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) and the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC).

Who is involved in the programme?

The research programme is to be implemented through twenty seven research institutes across the UK including NERC marine research centres, university departments and CEFAS.

What is the programme about?

UKOA sets out to address some key challenges that face the earth as a result of a changing marine environment in an increasing carbon dioxide atmosphere. The research funded through the programme sets out to increase understanding of the size, nature and impacts of these changes, with the aim to:

  • reduce uncertanties in predictions of carbonate chemistry changes and their effects on marine biogeochemistry, ecosystems and other components of the Earth System;
  • understand responses to ocean acidification and other climate change related stressors by marine organisms, biodiversity and ecosystems and to improve the understanding of their resistance or susceptibility to acidification;
  • provide data and effective advice to policy makers and managers of marine bioresources on the possible size and timescale of risks to allow for development of appropriate migration and adaptation strategies.

In order to address these aims there are seven research awards making up the research programme:

  • Observations and synthesis to establish variability and trends of oceanic pH ( Theme A )
  • Ocean acidification impacts on sea-surface biology, biogeochemistry and climate ( Theme B )
  • Impacts of ocean acidification on key benthic ecosystems, communities, habitats, species and life cycles ( Theme C )
  • Improved understanding of population, community and ecosystem impacts of ocean acidification for commercially important species ( Theme D )
  • Abrupt ocean acidification events and their effects in the Earth's past ( Theme E )
  • Regional ecosystem and biogeochemical impacts of ocean acidification - a modelling study ( Theme F )
  • CO 2 - carbon cycle - climate interactions [pelagic CaCo 3 production, export, ballasting and future changes] ( Theme G )

The programme is supported by the Ocean acidification carbonate chemistry facility at NOCS.

When is the programme active?

The programme started in July 2010 with funding for 5 years.

Brief summary of the programme fieldwork/data

Programme fieldwork and data collection are to be achieved through:

  • physical, biological and chemical parameters sampling throughout the North and South Atlantic during collaborative research cruises aboard NERC's research vessels RRS Discovery, and RRS James Clark Ross;
  • the Continuous Plankton Recorder being deployed by SAHFOS in the North Atlantic and North Pacific on 'ships of opportunity';
  • physical parameters measured and relayed in near real-time by fixed moorings and ARGO floats;
  • coastal and shelf sea observatory data (Liverpool Bay Coastal Observatory (LBCO) and Western Channel Observatory (WCO)) using the RV Prince Madog and RV Quest.

The data is to be fed into models for validation and future projections. Greater detail can be found in the Theme documents.