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Virtual tour: Google Earth dives into ocean acidification

01 November 2012

Google ocean acidification tour launchedGoogle Earth will soon offer a virtual tour around the world to explain ocean acidification and its rapid effects on marine life and humanity. The chemistry of one half of the Arctic Ocean, for example, will be changed by 2050 if carbon dioxide (CO2) levels continue to rise at current rates. The new feature and a new guide on ocean acidification were launched at The Ocean in a High CO2 World Symposium in Monterey, California.

“The new knowledge and multimedia guides released today open up ocean acidification so everyone can explore from their desktops what our current carbon dioxide emissions may mean to the ocean, and to us, in the very near future,” says Dan Laffoley, Marine Vice Chair of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) World Commission on Protected Areas and Chair of Europe’s Ocean Acidification Reference User Group.

The new guide ‘Ocean Acidification: The knowledge base 2012’ provides the latest science and identifies actions to prevent the spread of ocean acidification. According to the publication, ocean acidity has increased by 30 percent since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. If CO2 emissions continue to increase, the rate of acidification will accelerate in the coming decades. This rate of change is many times faster than anything experienced in the last 250 million years.

Major studies on ocean acidification are currently underway in Australia, China, the European Union, Japan, Korea, Monaco, the UK and the US. The new guide is the last in a series aimed at policy makers. It was compiled by the Ocean Acidification Reference User Group (RUG) and drawing on the expertise of over 30 of the world’s leading marine scientists.

In its previous publication ‘Ocean Acidification: Questions Answered,’ the group claimed that ocean acidification is happening 10 times faster than that which preceded the extinction 55 million years ago of many marine species. If the current rate of acidification continues, fragile ecosystems such as coral reefs, hosting a wealth of marine life, could be seriously damaged by 2050, according to the study.

“Supported by the Government of Monaco and my Foundation, an Ocean Acidification International Coordination Centre has been set up in Monaco within the premises of the International Atomic Energy Agency’s Marine Environment Laboratory,” Prince Albert II of Monaco said. “It represents not only an enormous source of pride for myself but also gives me real hopes for the future.”

Monaco is the new home of the Ocean Acidification International Coordination Centre.

Article by Bernd F. Laeschke,, 1st October 2012.