With just a drop of ocean water, a scientist can explore how ocean acidification and climate change is influencing the chemical and biological processes affecting our oceans. Using various scientific techniques, including nuclear, is an important step towards protecting the world’s oceans.
“To understand how the ocean is reacting to increasing acidification, we have to understand how the ocean is changing at a molecular scale,” said David Osborn, Director of the IAEA Environment Laboratories in Monaco. “The isotopic tools developed and advanced by the IAEA are key to this understanding.” The mandate of the Monaco Laboratories includes support to IAEA Member States in their use of the latest isotopic techniques to increase their understanding of the marine carbon cycle and the effects of ocean acidification on marine organisms. Watch this video to find out more about the IAEA's laboratories, Understanding and Protecting the Environment.
Alongside its contribution to rising global temperatures, carbon dioxide (CO2), a key driver of anthropogenic climate change, released into the atmosphere is also being absorbed by the world’s oceans. It is estimated that the oceans have absorbed 30% of all CO2 released into the atmosphere. This makes oceans more acidic, and the acidity of ocean surface waters is estimated to triple by the end of this century, Osborn said.
The double CO2 consequence — ocean acidification and warming — is affecting the ocean’s capacity to provide key ecological functions, including the absorption and storage of carbon.