The Science

The aim of the ‘Changing Oceans’ cruise is to advance our understanding of the functional ecology of cold-water coral ecosystems, now, in the past, and into the future.

Over the past 100 years, human activities such as the burning of coal and gas have increased the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Approximately one third of the CO2 released by human activity has dissolved in seawater, causing measurable changes in seawater pH and carbonate chemistry: Ocean Acidification (OA). As the average acidity (pH) of the world's oceans has been stable for the last 25 million years, this rapid change is a major problem facing our seas today. In particular, it is potentially catastrophic to all marine organisms that produce limestone shells or skeletons, such as corals and mussels (‘calcifiers’). This is because the increasing concentrations of dissolved CO2 in the oceans decrease the carbonate saturation of the water, which means there are less carbonate ions available for calcifiers to make their calcium carbonate skeletons. The ability of calcifiers to function under conditions of OA and associated elevated seawater temperature is largely unknown.

On this cruise, the scientists will conduct a number of surveys and experiments.We will update the blog daily with information about what the scientists are up to, and try to answer any questions which we receive.