The aim of the Australian and New Zealand  Ocean Acidification Project is to enable communication and coordination of ocean acidification research being undertaken in and/ or relevant to the region. The project started initially as a voice of concern after an OA conference in Canberra, June 2011.  Many fascinating experimental results were presented, demonstrating the sometimes quite unpredictable outcomes of pH changes on marine organisms.  OA research is still a relatively young field compared to general climate change research, however it is becoming quite clear to many researchers that the impacts of OA potentially can be devastating to certain marine ecosystems and, consequently, also to human communities that rely on those ecosystems.  For example, some experiments have shown the pH can increase mortality rates in juvenile species of molluscs which could result in a decline or collapse of these fisheries.  However, experiments on some fishes have shown capacity to adapt, so there is hope that related fisheries will persist as CO2 increases.  A key question discussed at the conference was implication for policy.  There was recognition that research needed to upscale from small tank CO2 manipulations to ecosystem experiments, either in large mesocosms or the natural environment.  These types of experiments are expensive and require a lot of resources both human and financial.

After the conference a group of us based in Canberra started meeting weekly to discuss how to progress the coordination needed to support this type of research and what were the key policy questions that needed answering.  This work evolved to include 33 scientists from Australia and New Zealand contributing to a synthesis paper on the status of ocean acidification research in the region and starting to identify those key policy questions and further research required to answers those questions.  An overview of this paper has now been published by CSIRO as the Marine Report Card- Ocean Acidification http://www.oceanclimatechange.org.au/content/index.php/2012/report_card_extended/category/ocean_acidification.  Work is ongoing to develop a policy framework and communicate the issues to Government.


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