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UKOA scientists invited to Washington

10 June 2014

Two of the UK’s top environmental scientists have been invited to talk about the state of the world’s oceans to an audience including US Secretary of State John Kerry at an ocean summit in Washington.

Image courtesy of_Zach Rudisin_wiki commons They are amongst less than thirty scientists from around the world who will be providing hard–hitting messages about the need for closer co-operation to overcome the challenges facing our oceans.

Their invitation to this important and prestigious event is a testament to the excellence of UK science, and underlines its vital role in tackling some of the key challenges facing our society in a rapidly changing environment.  

Dr Carol Turley, UKOA Knowledge Exchange Co-ordinator and Dr Phil Williamson, UKOA Science Co-ordinator, will be speaking at the ‘Our Ocean’ conference being held at the US Department of State, Washington, DC on June 16th-17th.

Dr Turley will be describing how ocean acidification is caused by CO2 emissions, its rapid rate of progress and early vulnerabilities. She will discuss its potential mitigation by reducing CO2 emissions to the atmosphere.

Dr Turley has high hopes for wider international recognition of the issue, and a greater focus on how we might curb, mitigate or adapt to any threats from ocean acidification:

“The science is clear - we know that nearly 30% of the carbon dioxide released by human activities has already been absorbed by the ocean, causing acidification of its surface waters. The current rate of ocean acidification is unprecedented in the past 65 million years and will last for many thousands of years. The speed of this change to the basic chemistry of the ocean poses substantial risks for marine ecosystems, from polar seas to coral reefs, through impacts on the physiology, behaviour, and population dynamics of marine animals and plants, with serious consequences for humanity. We have just a decade or so to act to prevent major acidification, I hope that this conference is the first step in a global action to do so”. 

Announcing the conference, US Secretary of State John Kerry said:

“The ocean fuels our trade. It provides much of the food we eat, the air we breathe. It is home to vast, extraordinary ecosystems from the coral reefs to the kelp forests. But today, this incredible resource is threatened. It’s threatened by unsustainable fishing, by pollution, by climate change. Indeed, how we respond to these challenges is literally going to help determine the future of our planet.”