Ocean acidification is a predicted consequence of climate change, in which large quantities of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere dissolve in the oceans, causing their alkaline/acid balance (their "pH") to shift towards acidic. If projected trends towards acidification continue, the consequences are likely to be dire for all the world's oceans.
As Australia's leader in tropical marine science, AIMS will be at the forefront of a research response to the challenge of ocean acidification and the threat it poses to the health and integrity of tropical marine ecosystems. In March 2008 a number of domestic and international experts were invited to AIMS' Townsville headquarters for a forum on the science of acidification and a planning meeting to advise the Institute on a future ocean acidification research strategy that will build on AIMS' strengths and complement other national and international activities.
Key participants were AIMS senior scientists Drs Janice Lough, Britta Schaffelke, Lyndon Llewellyn and Miles Furnas and scientists leading acidification research in other countries: Dr Joanie Kleypas of the Institute for Study of Society and Environment National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado; Dr Chris Langdon of the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, National Center for Atmospheric Research, University of Miami; Dr Jean-Pierre Gattuso of the Observatoire Oceanologique Laboratoire d'Oceanographie, France; Dr Bronte Tilbrook, CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research, Hobart; and Dr Ken Anthony, Centre for Marine Studies, University of Queensland.
A series of recommendations emerged from this workshop to direct AIMS' acidification research effort into the future.
A well-attended public forum on the issue in Townsville on 14 March provided an opportunity for the scientists to brief interested members of the public. This event was booked out and there was a shared perception that ocean acidification is a sleeping issue of huge importance for all marine ecosystems and for all nations.