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US/NZ host international workshop on ocean acidification

Leading international ocean scientists and policy experts are today gathering in Apia, Samoa to better understand the threat ocean acidification poses to Pacific Island nations.

The workshop, co-hosted by the United States and New Zealand governments in partnership with the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme, will be held on the margins of the Small Island Developing States Conference, today and tomorroq.

The workshop participants, who hail from the nations attending the Small Island Developing States conference, will discuss best practices, solutions and ocean acidification monitoring programmes for island nations to implement.

US Embassy chargé d’affaires Marie Damour says US Secretary of State John Kerry’s ‘Our Ocean’ conference in June highlighted ocean acidification as a key threat to the world’s oceans.

“The workshop, in addition to coming up with practical solutions for the challenge of ocean acidification in the Pacific, showcases the strong partnership between the US and New Zealand on oceans and science issues,” she says.

“As Minister Steven Joyce highlighted this week, the United States is New Zealand’s most significant research and technology partner,” she says.

This week’s Ocean Acidification workshop follows on from a workshop in Nelson in December 2013 which identified ways to futureproof New Zealand’s $350 aquaculture industry. It was held in partnership between the US Department of State, the New Zealand Government, the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research, the Gordon & Betty Moore Foundation, Sanford Limited and the Cawthron Institute.

This week’s workshop, entitled ‘An International Workshop on Ocean Acidification: State-of-the-Science Considerations for Small Island Developing States’ was officially announced by US and New Zealand at the 45th Pacific Islands Forum in Palau held this year in August.

Speaking at the event will be Dr Todd Capson, an American oceans scientist and science and policy adviser to the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership in Washington DC who also co-organised the Nelson event.          

Mr Capson spoke to the NBR earlier in the year about the threat to New Zealand’s aquaculture.

“There’s really no debate that it’s happening. It’s simple chemistry,” he says.

“Worldwide, oceans have absorbed more than a quarter of the carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere since the beginning of the industrial revolution. We’ve seen a 30-40% increase in the acidity of our oceans, and it’s hurting.”

The organisations co-sponsoring the Ocean Acidification workshop are the US Department of State, the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the New Zealand National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research, and the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme.

More by Nathan Smith

Comments and questions


"Acidification" is nonsense. The sea is massively alkaline and some parts of it may be moving marginally towards neutral. The term is used purely for scaremongering.

Man-made emissions account for only 3% of the exchange between the atmosphere and the land and the sea. Sea temperature is the most critical factor because, if it increases, the sea gives up carbon dioxide. 800 years after a temperature increase, carbon dioxide increases.

Coral reefs have been around for millions and millions of years including times when carbon dioxide levels were much higher than they are now. They survived.

Large changes in pH occur every time there is a storm off the Great Barrier Reef. As has been happening for thousands of years. Research indicates that these changes make virtually no difference to the organisms.

When will people begin to understand that the ancestors of every living creature on earth have survived massive climate change, volcanoes, sea level rises and the like that happen every time we go in and out on the ice age? If they were not tough, they would not exist.

At the end of the last ice age, sea levels all over the world were rising at a rate of 3 m per century. This must have caused massive erosion and pollution far greater than anything we have seen or caused. The marine creatures survived.

*Citation needed please

Happy to oblige but what for?

I am happy to provide citations and relevant papers. Probably best by email. will get to me.

See for relevant science

How would a 30-40% increase in acidity of our oceans be expressed in terms of pH?
And what is the seasonal/annual variation in pH in the ocean, compared with the change from carbon dioxide from human activity?
And, if AGW is causing the oceans to warm, wouldn't they be releasing CO2?

"How would a 30-40% increase in acidity of our oceans be expressed in terms of pH?"

Not sure in terms of pH - but it most likely will require the taxpayer to fund weeks of close observation that only an "over-water" bungalow could deliver, whilst actively debating the committee consensus around the pool bar after a hard days observation. It would ten expressed in all manner of Chicken Little scaremongering prose.

It would be nice if they also discussed Ocean Plastic as well as acidification.

Sooner or later fish will be delivered pre-packed in wrapped in plastic with just a hint a off that ocean fresh flavour.

If the acid doesn't get you then the plastic will.

Dealkanisation would be the correct scientific term, if it were to be even happening.

"Acidification" is a scary-sounding buzz word that alarmist activist use, like the meaningless term "climate change".

Some very basic chemistry being ignored here. Even year 10 students can tell you that pH 7 is neutral. anything higher than that, such as the oceans as ~8.1 are therefore alkaline, Secondly, carbonate/bicarbonate/CO2 act as a buffer solution to resist changes in pH. It is not a simple thing of adding CO2 and getting more hydrogen ions.
pH measurements on reefs show up to 1 pH unit change a day, with no ill effect on the organisms. Transects of the Pacific from 20 to 60° latitude show pH decreasing from 8.1 in the tropics to 7.7 at the northern end of the transect. It also decreased with depth to 7.55 at 4000m. In all cases the pH was never less than 7, which it has to do to be called acidic.
To pretend that a small change in pH is going to be catastrophic is shear nonsense.
One needs to examine the motives of the "scientists" who make such claims and the politics of the IPCC.