Author Archives: Rita Erven

If carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere and thereby in the ocean continue to rise, this could favour the mass development of toxic algae, with far-reaching consequences for the pelagic food web. This was discovered during a long-term experiment off the Canary Islands conducted by an international group of scientists led by the GEOMAR Helmholtz […]

Many organisms are able to withstand ocean acidification, but may lose this ability if also exposed to other stressors such as warming, excess nutrients, loss of oxygen, reduced salinity or pollution. A reduction of regional stress such as nutrient runoff or the loss of oxygen can mitigate the impact of global stressors like ocean acidification […]

As science gained valuable insights into the effects of climate change on the ocean, it has become possible to predict the direction of many alterations within the complex and dynamic system. But it has also become apparent how difficult it is to form a clear picture. There is no doubt that elemental cycles and marine […]

Case study Cyanobacteria, also known as “blue green algae” are among the organisms that benefit from ocean change. In the Baltic Sea, the species Nodularia spumigena manages perfectly with water temperatures above 16 degrees Celsius and elevated carbon dioxide concentrations – whereas other organisms already reach their limits at less warming. The microscopic filamentous bacteria […]

The regular world climate reports compiled by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) form the most reliable basis for political decisions regarding climate change. For the fifth issue, the IPCC defined five current Reasons for Concern (RFC), eight key risks as well as four risk levels. The “Burning Ember” diagrams – the name refers […]

Fossil fuels are the main source of greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution. Both are not only drivers of climate change but also cause ocean acidification. Knowledge of natural scientific facts on sea and climate alone however does not trigger sufficient motivation in society, businesses and politics to reduce their emissions. In the context of […]

Many people spend their holidays at sea. The marine climate and the view of the blue ocean allow them to relax. But rising temperatures and carbon dioxide concentrations, lack of oxygen and excess in nutrients benefit the development of harmful algae.   Dolce vita at the Baltic coast? Warmer water and air temperatures, drier summers, […]

Case study Atlantic cod and haddock stocks are moving northeast, while mackerels are immigrating from the south. Spawning seasons and spawning grounds are shifting. The population size and distribution range of seabirds and marine mammals are changing. Fishers and members of the ocean-related tourism sector in Northern Norway are already noticing these effects of climate […]

Case study The Arctic Ocean is already being impacted by the effects of climate change. Like an early warning system, it is exhibiting transformations that other places may undergo in the future. Air and water temperatures have risen since the end of the 19th century, and the annual mean Arctic sea-ice extent has decreased during […]

Fish and seafood feed people around the globe. Fisheries are an important source of income in many regions. But what does the future hold? In the Arctic, people already observe how ocean change alters marine food webs and how this influences their economy and culture.   How long will we be able to eat fish? […]

Ocean acidification is a creeping threat to the global ocean and life therein. Caused by human activity, this change in seawater chemistry will impact the future of the rich marine biodiversity and important ecosystem services for humans. Because many scientific uncertainties still remain despite large research efforts, the precautionary principle should be applied. With respect […]

Case study The single-celled calcifying phytoplankton species Emiliania huxleyi produces a considerable amount of biomass and calcium carbonate in the ocean, supports the uptake of carbon dioxide at the surface and releases the climate-cooling gas dimethyl sulphide (DMS). It is almost impossible to imagine the marine elemental cycle without the tiny all-rounder. But this is […]

By absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, the ocean mitigates global warming. This invaluable service is based on chemical and biological processes in the seawater. The cycling of elements also secures many other important ecosystem services. Climate change may disturb their balance.   Life-giving elemental cycles Carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus: three interacting elemental cycles are […]

Case study On the rocky shores of the Baltic Sea, the bladderwrack Fucus vesiculosus provides a perfect base layer for diverse ecosystems. By colonizing pebbles and rocks along the coasts of the inland sea, bladderwrack creates a home and shelter for small crustaceans, crabs, mussels, sea snails and slugs, algae and even fish. Since the […]

Case study The world of Lophelia pertusa is chilly and dark – but stunningly colourful. Unlike tropical corals, these beauties of the cold are not fed by photosynthesising algae, but catch plankton that drifts by. Because they do not depend on light to thrive, they can exist in ocean depths of hundreds or even thousands […]

Seawater constitutes about 90 per cent of the habitable space on Earth. Yet less than five per cent of the ocean realm have been explored. Many marine plants and animals are still waiting to be discovered. Thanks to its biodiversity, the ocean performs many important functions and safeguards human wellbeing.   Planet ocean: the realm […]

By taking up carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, the ocean slows down global climate change. But when absorbed by seawater, the greenhouse gas triggers chemical reactions, causing the ocean to become more acidic. The German research network BIOACID has investigated the effects of ocean acidification on marine life and its consequences for society and economy. […]

Frederike Böhm | Department of Philosophy, Kiel University I like to follow the concept “reduce – reuse – recycle” when it comes to consumption: borrowing, sharing or buying second-hand are often good alternatives to purchasing new things, the production of which causes additional carbon dioxide emissions and use resources. Moreover, I can easily live without […]

Lead Proponents: Katrin Rehdanz (Kiel Institute for the World Economy and Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel CAU), Martin Quaas (CAU, Kiel) Consortium 5 “Services of the Ocean” aims to investigate social and economic consequences of ocean acidification and to quantify them. Thus, stakeholders will be able to recognize consequences of their behaviour as well as ways to […]

Lead Proponents: Katrin Rehdanz (Kiel Institute for the World Economy and CAU, Kiel), Martin Quaas (CAU, Kiel) Ocean Acidification (OA) has been gaining increasing recognition in the policy circles recently, due to an increasing number of studies on biological and ecological impacts of OA (e.g. Turley et al. 2010). However, estimates of socio-economic impacts are […]

Lead Proponent: Dr. Felix Christopher Mark (AWI, Bremerhaven) Organisms in the polar regions are expected to be most affected by ocean acidification: The cold water can take up more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere than the water in warmer regions. Even in colder body fluids, the solubility of CO2 is higher. At the same time, […]

Lead Proponent: Dr. Felix Christopher Mark (AWI, Bremerhaven) Ocean acidification is an additional stressor developing in parallel to ongoing climate warming. Future impacts of ocean acidification on organisms and ecosystems are expected to be greatest in Polar Regions, owing to enhanced CO2 solubility in cold waters and body fluids and to the concomitant exposure of […]

Lead Proponent: Dr. Dirk de Beer (Max-Planck-Institute for Marine Microbiology, Bremen) The acidification of the oceans due to rising carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere can be predicted quite well. In contrast, its effects on biodiversity and biological functions are still difficult to foresee. For organisms with long life spans, it is difficult to estimate, […]

Lead Proponent: Dr. Dirk de Beer (Max-Planck-Institute for Marine Microbiology, Bremen We would like to predict the state of the future oceans. Which organisms will be present? How will the seas function in global element cycling, and how can oceans be used as a resource for humans? The importance of the seas for humanity as […]

Lead Proponent: Prof. Dr. Martin Wahl (GEOMAR, Kiel) The geographical distribution of species are the result of ecological and evolutionary (adaptation, niche differentiation), geological (e.g. distributional barriers) and oceanographic or climatic settings (e.g. salinity, temperature, light, and their fluctuations) (e.g. Kearney et al. 2010). The overlap of species’ distributional areas in a given region together […]

Lead Proponent: Prof. Dr. Martin Wahl (GEOMAR, Kiel) The distribution of species is a result of ecological, evolutionary, geological, oceanographic and climatic conditions. The characteristics of these species and their number determine the different roles and functions within the system and how the whole community might react to to stress and disturbances. Global factors such […]

Lead Proponent: Prof. Dr. Ulrich Sommer (GEOMAR, Kiel) The importance of the ocean’s pelagic system is beyond doubt. It covers 70 per cent of the Earth’s surface and contributes ca. 50 per cent to global primary productivity. The human interest in the pelagic system rests on the following ecosystem services: Biological carbon pump: The production […]

Lead Proponent: Prof. Dr. Ulrich Sommer (GEOMAR, Kiel) The ocean covers about two thirds of the earth’s surface. Marine plants and bacteria produce about half of the global biomass. Three “services” of the oceans are most important to mankind: The ocean absorbs carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere and stores this greenhouse gas in the […]

Objectives and overarching questions Synthesize information obtained in Themes 1 to 4 in order to achieve an integrated understanding of biological responses to ocean change. Develop a framework for integrating ocean acidification sensitivities at the organism level into ecosystem models. What are the integrated effects of ocean acidification and warming on ecosystem to global ocean […]

Overarching questions What is the role of differential sensitivities to OA at the community, species and intraspecific (ontogenetic stages, genotypes) level? Are there emerging properties resulting from organism interactions that are not visible from single-species investigations alone? Does the community structure change as a consequence of OA and how do shifts in competitive abilities of […]

Overarching questions What are the cellular mechanisms of calcification and decalcification in different marine organisms, particularly with regard to ion transport to and from calcification sites? How will OA and pH stress affect calcification at the level of organisms, communities and ecosystems? Will concurrent temperature change modulate these effects? What changes will occur in the […]

Overarching questions Which physiological mechanisms define sensitivity or tolerance of marine animals to ocean acidification and how do they set or modify performance levels and fitness? Can acclimation capacity (gene expression capacity) for such mechanisms explain physiological plasticity? How does acclimation or adaptation to new levels of CO2 and temperature affect organism performance? In a […]

To address and better understand the chain from biological mechanisms, through individual organism responses, food web and ecosystem effects, to economic impacts, five consortia were established for BIOACID phase II: Consortium 1: Pelagic ecosystems under ocean acidification: Ecological, biogeochemical and evolutionary responses Consortium 2: Responses of benthic assemblages to interactive stress Consortium 3: Natural CO2-rich […]

Five thematic areas have been identified which cover the range of processes from the base of the marine food chain to the community and ecosystem level, and of mechanisms from the sub-cellular to the whole organism level. In view of their distinct sensitivities to ocean acidification, calcification and carbonate dissolution processes will be the focal […]

Overarching questions How do marine primary producers and heterotrophic bacteria of diverse taxonomic groups respond to ocean acidification (OA) and increase in CO2 concentration on? Which groups/species (e.g. calcifying vs. non calcifying species) are negatively impacted and which benefit? To what extent will key phytoplankton species and bacteria be able to acclimate to OA? What […]

BIOACID III bridges between different branches of ocean acidification research and provide an assessment of short- to long-term responses and their underlying mechanisms at the level of organisms, populations, communities and ecosystems to multiple drivers leading up to ecosystem services. Synthesis activities will be structured into three major themes. Each of them covers the range […]

Tropical coral reefs lose up to two thirds of their zooplankton through ocean acidification. This is the conclusion reached by a German-Australian research team that examined two reefs with so-called carbon dioxide seeps off the coast of Papua New Guinea.

In an experiment with organisms from the Kiel Fjord, a team of biologists from GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel demonstrated for the first time, that ocean acidification and rising water temperatures harms the fatty acid composition of copepods in the natural plankton community.

Rising seawater temperatures and increased nutrient concentrations could lead to a decline of the bladder wrack Fucus vesiculosus in the Baltic Sea in the future, according to experiments conducted by marine scientists from Kiel and Rostock. The results show how important it is to examine the responses of organisms to a combination of environmental factors, […]

Tropical Porites corals adjust their internal pH in order to enable themselves to form calcium carbonate and grow under elevated carbon dioxide concentrations – even for a longer period of time. In order to understand the ability of pH regulation in more detail, researchers of GEOMAR have used the boron isotope method to examine samples […]

In cooperation with potentially affected stakeholders, Scientists from the University of Bremen have developed an ecosystem model that integrates the relevant environmental processes and examines ecological changes and their socio-economic implications.

Coccolithophores, single-celled phytoplankton, which plays a vital role in marine biogeochemical cycling, in marine food webs and in the global climate system, has developed a variety of calcareous shells to protect itself against predation and damage. But this requires a lot of energy – and the price for the artful armour could rise further due […]

The most abundant single-celled calcifying alga of the world’s oceans, Emiliania huxleyi is basically able to adapt to ocean acidification through evolution. However, the longest evolution experiment that has been conducted with this organism so far shows, that the potential for adaptation is not as large as initially expected. The growth rate under elevated carbon […]

A main habitat-forming coralline red alga will be affected by elevated carbon dioxide concentrations in the seawater, according to an international team of scientists. Experiments conducted at GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel and measurements carried out at GEOMAR, University of Bristol and the University of Western Australia, revealed that Lithothamnion glaciale might lose […]

Marine Scientists from France, the United Kingdom, the United States and Germany presented ocean research at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) 21st Conference of the Parties (COP 21) in Paris. Especially young scientists benefitted greatly from participating in the climate summit.

At two booths in the public and the UN area, BIOACID members inform about their work and answer questions about the problem of ocean acidification and other topics of marine sciences.

An in-depth assessment of possible impacts of ocean acidification on the environment, society and economy and the development of management options for decision makers are the primary goals of the German research network BIOACID (Biological Impacts of Ocean Acidification), now entering its final funding period. The Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) supports the […]

A two-day public meeting at the Royal Society, London on 4-5 June, 2015 will discuss the latest scientific findings arising from the UK Ocean Acidification (UKOA) research programme and the German partnership programme, Biological Impacts of Ocean Acidification (BIOACID).

A two-day public meeting at the Royal Society, London on 4-5 June, 2015 will discuss the latest scientific findings arising from the UK Ocean Acidification (UKOA) research programme and the German partnership programme, Biological Impacts of Ocean Acidification (BIOACID).

Using cutting edge technologies experts of the GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel together with colleagues from the UK, Canada and the United States were able to reconstruct pH values of the Northern Pacific with a high resolution since the end of the 19th century. The study, which has been published in the current […]

Cool currents from the deep ocean could save tropical corals from lethal heat stress. Researchers from Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research, GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel and Phuket Marine Biological Center observed internal waves preserving corals in the Andaman Sea. Because satellites do not detect these small-scale phenomena, […]

To continue its striking development, ocean acidification research needs to bridge between its diverging branches towards an integrated assessment. This is the conclusion drawn by Prof. Ulf Riebesell from GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel and Dr. Jean-Pierre Gattuso from the French Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) and Université Pierre et Marie […]

Ocean acidification might alter climate-relevant functions of the oceans’ uppermost layer, according to a study by a group of marine scientists published in the “Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans”. In an experiment led by GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel, the researchers observed a close coupling between biological processes in the seawater and the […]

In a long-term field study led by GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel, an international team of scientists investigates the effects of ocean acidification on pelagic ecosystems in the subtropical Atlantic. The field experiment with the KOSMOS mesocosms off Gran Canary now culminates in the simulation of deep-water upwelling – an event that can […]

Young sea stars from the Baltic Sea suffer more from the effects of ocean acidification than adults. In a laboratory experiment, scientists from GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel showed that younger animals already eat less and grow more slowly at only slightly elevated carbon dioxide concentrations. Their results are now published in the […]

The single most important calcifying algae of the world’s oceans is able to simultaneously adapt to rising water temperatures and ocean acidification through evolution. A unique long-term experiment with the species Emiliania huxleyi at GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel shows that the evolutionary potential of the algae is much greater than previously thought. […]

Five years after their first “kick-off” at GEOMAR, the members of the German research network on ocean acidification BIOACID gathered again in Kiel. In addition to providing an overview of ongoing activities, presenting research highlights of recent developments, and planning upcoming work, a new brochure in German language was launched at the annual meeting 2014.

How do cold-water corals react to changing environmental conditions such as rising water temperatures and ocean acidification? Will the fragile reefs survive climate change?

Rising carbon dioxide emissions do not only cause global warming. The greenhouse gas also dissolves in seawater and leads to ocean acidification. Two recent studies by members of the research group for Microbial Biogeochemistry at GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel show how the oceans’ uptake of carbon dioxide on the one hand stimulates […]

Members of the German research network BIOACID (Biological Impacts of Ocean Acidification) are developing a model that links ecosystem changes triggered by ocean acidification and climate change with their economic and societal consequences. Workshops and interviews with stakeholders from the Norwegian fishing industry and tourism sector, the government and environmental organisations help them to identify […]

For the first time, an international team of 70 marine scientists investigates impacts of ocean acidification on pelagic ecosystems. Biologists, chemists, biogeochemists and physical oceanographers cooperate closely to analyse responses to projected future ocean change. The field experiment with the KOSMOS mesocosms is conducted at Taliarte, Gran Canaria as a joint activity of the German […]

Evolutionary adaptation to ocean acidification has to be taken into account when projecting the future of marine ecosystems, says a team of scientists from Canada, Australia, the United States, Great Britain, Sweden and Germany in a review published this week in the international journal “Trends in Ecology and Evolution” (TREE).

The first meeting of the Ocean Acidification international Reference User Group (OAiRUG)  took place from 2-4 December 2013 at the Oceanographic Museum in Monaco. The OAiRUG is working with research projects on ocean acidification and with the Ocean Acidification International Coordination Centre to examine in detail the types of data, analyses and products that are […]

The World Bank Group is launching its first open online course on climate change and ocean acidification. The series of lectures starts on January 27th, 2014. Registration at the education platform Coursera is open already.

Ocean acidification impairs digestion in marine organisms, according to a new study published in the journal Nature Climate Change. Researchers from Sweden and Germany have studied the larval stage of green sea urchins Strongylocentrotus droebachiensis. The results show that the animals have problems digesting food in acidified water.

In a major new international report, experts conclude that the acidity of the world’s ocean may increase by around 170 per cent by the end of the century bringing significant economic losses. People who rely on the ocean’s ecosystem services – often in developing countries – are especially vulnerable.

When the Conference of the Parties (COP) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change meets in Warsaw in November 2013, an exhibition stand and an official side event will provide information on ocean acidification. Europe’s research programmes joined forces with partners to communicate about “the other carbon dioxide problem”.

As a result of climate change the Atlantic cod has moved so far north that it’s juveniles now can even be found in large numbers in the fjords of Spitsbergen. This is the conclusion reached by biologists of the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI), following an expedition to this […]

One year after the start of the second phase, the members of the German research network BIOACID (Biological Impacts of Ocean Acidification) informed each other about the current status of their work. Their preliminary results suggest important insights into the impacts of ocean acidification on marine life and their consequences both for society and economy. […]

How do marine ecosystems respond to ocean acidification? Can marine communities adapt to a changing environment? In an unprecedented long-term experiment, 69 scientists from 12 European research institutes and universities studied the development of the plankton community and fish larvae in acidified waters. After the successful completion of the study, the German research vessel ALKOR […]

From 14 May to 11 June 2013, members of consortium 3 conducted research off the northeastern coast of Normanby Island, Papua New Guinea (09°49.455’S, 150°49.073’E) aboard the MV Chertan with captain Rob van der Loos and his crew. The purpose of the cruise was to determine how marine organisms are acclimated to long-term ocean acidification […]

How much more carbon dioxide (CO2) will the oceans be able to take up? To find out more about the efficiency of this service, scientists estimate the sinking velocities of organisms involved in the biological pump. Increasing numbers of gelatinous plankton might help in mitigating the CO2 problem. In field and laboratory experiments scientists from […]

Report about the current KOSMOS 2013 mesocosm experiment in Kristineberg.

Researchers have known for some years that the Atlantic cod beats the retreat in the direction of the Arctic when the waters in its traditional habitat become too warm. In summer, shoals from the Atlantic Ocean, for example, are now moving up as far as Spitsbergen into the waters the Arctic cod calls its own. […]

From January to June 2013, more than 60 European scientists will conduct a worldwide unique long-term experiment on ocean acidification at the west coast of Sweden. To study how natural marine communities develop in response to acidifying waters, the scientists will deploy a large-scale mesocosm facility in the Gullmar Fjord. The field experiment, which takes […]

Ocean acidification, caused by the uptake of anthropogenic carbon dioxide, is a significant stressor to marine life.

Increasing ocean acidification can have negative effects on calcifying marine organisms. A new study of the GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel, Kiel University and the University of Gothenburg demonstrates that sea urchin larvae grow and build up their calcium skeletons more slowly if their development has to take place in acidified sea water. […]

The German coordinated research project on ocean acidification BIOACID (Biological Impacts of Ocean Acidification) is extended for another three-year funding period. Since September 2012, 14 institutions investigate how marine ecosystems react to ocean acidification, how this affects the food chain and the exchange of material and energy in the ocean and how the changes influence […]

Scientists of the Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel (GEOMAR) conducted a one year CO2 selection experiment using the calcifying microalgae Emiliania huxleyi and uncovered an enormous potential for adaptation to rapidly changing environments in this important phytoplankton species. After 500 generations under controlled CO2 conditions adapted cultures grew and calcified significantly better compared non-adapted […]

Fish stocks are not only threatened by over-fishing. An international research group led by the GEOMAR | Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel has now found evidence for potentially harmful effects the increasing acidification of the oceans may have on larvae of commercially important fish species such as cod. The study was published today in […]

From the Arctic to the tropics, ocean acidification changes life in the sea. By absorbing carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere, the ocean slows down global climate change. But in seawater, the greenhouse gas causes a chemical reaction with far-reaching consequences: carbonic acid is formed, and the pH drops. Many plants and animals that build […]

Nick Cobbing, born in 1967, is a photo journalist and artist focusing on the Arctic and Antarctic as well as themes of science and climate change. Nick Cobbing is a contributing photographer to National Geographic Magazine and has also worked with GEO, The Sunday Times and the BBC. His work has been recognised by many […]

Solvin Zankl, born in 1971, studied Biology and started working as a full-time nature photographer in 1998. His photos are published regularly in leading international magazines such as GEO, Stern, National Geographic Magazine, Natural History Magazine and BBC Wildlife. Solvin Zankl has been awarded with Deutscher Preis für Wissenschaftsfotografie 2008, European Wildlife Photographer of the […]

Since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, the ocean has absorbed about 30 per cent of all the carbon dioxide (CO2) released into the atmosphere by human activities. By providing this invaluable service – science refers to it as a “CO2 sink” function – the ocean slows down global climate change. If this natural store […]

In May 2010, the Greenpeace ship ESPERANZA carried the nine KOSMOS mesocosms from Kiel to Svalbard. Thirty-five scientists from twelve countries deployed these “giant test tubes” in the Kongsfjord off Ny-Ålesund to investigate how ocean acidification affects the plankton community in the Arctic. The experiment revealed for the first time that small phytoplankton species benefit […]

After the mesocosms had been deployed in the Kongsfjord (Svalbard) and the 50 cubic metres large bags lowered, the participants of the study install a hood on every unit. The plastic roofs prevent rain and snow from falling into the bags since large amounts of freshwater would alter the measurements. A positive side effect is […]

To acidify the seawater inside the mesocosms, GEOMAR scientists developed the “spider”. Through the small tubes of this spiny instrument, seawater enriched with carbon dioxide is pumped into the bags and distributed evenly inside them. In this way, the enclosed plankton community is exposed to future concentrations for long-term studies. For the 2010 experiment in […]

For six weeks, the scientists take plankton nets, water samplers and other instruments on their small boats out to the mesocosms in the Kongsfjord (Svalbard) to collect samples and data. Day in, day out, after the sampling procedure, they analyse about 300 litres of water in their laboratories and measure more than 60 biological, chemical […]

When the sun shines and the sea is smooth, but also when there is snow, rain, waves or ice drift, the participants of the mesocosm experiment sail from their station in Ny-Ålesund to their experimental field in the Kongsfjord. Puffins and other Arctic birds can be observed during the short boat ride. From time to […]

Are the mesocosms intact? Are the funnel-like sediment traps that collect sinking organic matter from the water column connected tightly to the plastic bags? Divers check the setup below the water surface regularly – an ice-cool mission to support an experiment under extreme conditions. Photo: Nick Cobbing

Tsuneo Tanaka taps a sample for oxygen measurements during the EPOCA Arctic Campaign 2010. To reveal how ocean acidification affects its chemistry, the sea water also needs to be analysed for nutrients, the carbonate system, salinity and pH. Photo: Nick Cobbing

In Ny-Ålesund, everything is just a short walk away. The little village in the west of Spitsbergen is reserved for science only: Norway, Germany, France and China as well as Italy, the United Kingdom, Japan, Spain and the Netherlands operate research stations there. The inhabitants of Ny-Ålesund dedicate themselves to science. In winter, about 30 […]

Research teams lead by GEOMAR deployed the KOSMOS mesocosms already twice in Norway’s Raunefjord near Bergen. In 2011, they concentrated on a tiny organism with great importance for the global climate: the single-celled calcifying alga Emiliania huxleyi. In 2015, the participants of the field study identified winners and losers of ocean acidification in the plankton […]

The integrated water sampler is the main instrument for mesocosm sampling. It is lowered carefully into the bag and then swiftly taken back to the surface. In doing so, the scientists ensure that the acrylic cylinder collects water from all layers. Still in the fjord, the content is tapped into vials and containers onboard the […]

The calcifying alga Emiliania huxleyi produces a considerable amount of biomass and calcium carbonate, supports the ocean’s function as a carbon dioxide sink and releases a climate-cooling gas. It is almost impossible to imagine the marine elemental cycle without the tiny all-rounder. But this is exactly what scientists expect. In a laboratory experiment, Emiliania huxleyi […]

In between Bergen’s famous rain showers the evening sun makes the mesocosms glitter. The fjord falls silent – while work in the laboratories continues until late at night. Photo: Solvin Zankl

Six orange tubes, a roof put up like an umbrella and the collar of the plastic bag – that’s all to be seen from a mesocosm afloat. Scientists are interested in what happens beneath the surface, well enclosed in robust, translucent special foil. The bag, which is 25 metres long and holds 55 cubic metres […]

In order to compare the development of the community captured in the mesocosms, the scientists also sample the fjord. Dana Michaelis takes a net haul to catch zooplankton such as sea butterflies – snails with a very delicate calcium carbonate shell that flap their way through the water. Photo: Solvin Zankl

Limacina, Termora, Bosmina – so much life in a little drop of water! Using their microscope, Dr. Silke Lischka, Dana Michaelis and Carsten Spisla discover a variety of plankton species that can hardly be seen with the naked eye. Throughout the experiment, marine biologists and taxonomists identify and count the various organisms from subsamples collected […]

Delicate shell, sensible core: Pteropods are among the most vulnerable plankton species. With its foot developed into two wings, the “sea butterfly” flutters through the ocean. Limacina retroversa grows to up to seven millimetres. Its left-coiled, high-spired shell is made of aragonite, a form of calcium carbonate that is easily affected by ocean acidification. In […]