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Laura Ramajo (Chile), COP20, Lima, December 2014

"I was able to participate in the exhibition stand under the slogan HOT, SOUR AND BREATHLESS sponsored by the Plymouth Marine Lab (UK), the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Scripps Institution of Oceanography and CMBC (USA), and Centro de Investigación e Innovación para el Cambio Climático (CIICC) of Universidad Santo Tomás (Chile). Delegates and observers from around the world heard about how the increase in atmospheric CO2 is warming, acidifying and de-oxygenating the oceans with the respective ecologic, social and economic consequences."

OA-ICC & ENEA training course on ocean acidification and warming in the Mediterranean, 1-7 September 2014, La Spezia, Italy




Training course summary



The 8-day expert training course entitled “Effects of ocean acidification and global warming on Mediterranean selected marine organisms (polychaetes and coralline algae) –in situ and laboratory studies for monitoring future oceans” was jointly organized by the IAEA's Ocean Acidification International Coordination Centre (OA-ICC) and the Italian National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Economic Development (ENEA), with the support of the Association For-Mare for Applied Ecological Sciences, the Natural Regional Park of Porto Venere (La Spezia, Italy) and MARES Doctoral School in Ecosystem Health and Conservation.

This training course pursued three main objectives:

  • to develop an innovative education system that trains students to work in teams: how to test scientific hypotheses, to develop experimental design, to collect data in the field and to communicate the scientific results;
  • to develop new non-destructive sampling methodologies and census techniques for the conservation of the coastal zone;
  • to provide the administration of the Natural Regional Park of Porto Venere with scientific data useful for long-term monitoring programmes.

The training course benefited nine researchers entering the field of ocean acidification, five of them representing IAEA developing Member States and sponsored by the OA-ICC. Students were trained by a group of international lecturers who challenged them to test two original scientific hypotheses - two international working groups were created for this purpose and each had to address one question, from experimental design to data collection and field work, data interpretation and communication.

Structure and organization


The course was structured in a total of 46 hours comprising preparatory activities in the field 4 hr), seminars/lectures(16hr), field work in groups and original data collection (12 hr), final discussions and presentation of the results (6hr), discussion groups (2 hr) and several science cafes (6 hr). Students learned to work within the framework of a scientific group according to the concept of the Delphic process (Webler et al. 2001), i.e. expert inputs are used in group discussions to make decisions and predictions in conditions of data scarcity. It was also expected that students develop methodological skills in non-destructive sampling methods as census techniques in coastal ecosystems and finally increase their communication skills.

The fist day was dedicated to a botanical trekking on Palmaria Island with two main purposes: 'ice-breaking' and placing student in the context (i.e. exploring the area and being introduced to the didactic-scientific approach) by means of terrestrial ecology.

The two following days were spent at the Marine and Sustainable Development Unit (UTMAR) of the ENEA and consisted of lectures and laboratory activities on Mediterranean seawater chemistry, natural vents systems, effects of ocean acidification on polychaetes and coralline algae etc. Under an intensive 16-hour programme, students carried out brainstorming exercises, preliminary field surveys, preparation of sampling and laboratory materials, data collection and data analyses.

The aim of this second part of the course was to perform an accurate and reliable -in terms of time, local logistics and laboratory support - sampling design to test the hypothesis. The two resulting research projects were presented during the final workshop organized as a public discussion.

The the idea 'behind the science' was to equip young scientists with relevant tools but also to encourage scientific and institutional cooperation (e.g. Regional Parks, MPAs).


Feedback from beneficiaries


"The workshop was very useful for our research activities in Indonesia. Research on ocean acidification was just started under the National IAEA TC Project INS7007 on Assessing Air Quality and Ocean Acidification, therefore the activities in line with the implementation of the INS7007 TC project. During the workshop, we have discussed collaboration on ocean acidification such as the possibility to send a master student to Italy or UK to perform studies on this topic using organisms collected in Indonesia (tropical country).[...] Ali Arman, Indonesia