African scientists to showcase efforts addressing ocean acidification at high-level ocean conference

Ocean acidification, often referred to as “the other CO2 problem”, is a major threat to marine
ecosystems worldwide, and is the focus of the UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 14.3.
Since 2015, African scientists are actively collaborating to advance ocean acidification research
throughout the continent as part of the OA-Africa network.
Many African countries rely heavily on their coasts and rivers for economic growth and well-
being. Unfortunately, the marine and coastal ecosystems of Africa are facing severe
environmental threats, such as untreated waste water discharge, illegal fishing, and habitat
degradation all combined with human-induced climate change. The rapidly increasing
atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) not only alters climate and the chemistry of the atmosphere,
but is being absorbed by the oceans, causing a lowering of global pH levels, a process referred
to as ocean acidification. Past rapid ocean acidification periods in Earth history are not analogues for the present
perturbation since their rates of change were far slower. The accelerated ongoing CO2 ocean
uptake is outpacing the ocean’s capacity to buffer oceanic pH and its carbonate chemistry and
gives marine organisms, ecosystems, and humans less time to adapt to a changing
environment. At the current rate of global carbon dioxide emissions, the average acidity of the
surface ocean is expected to increase by 100–150 percent over pre-industrial levels by the end
of this century.
Liberia is hosting the Blue Oceans Conference on 18-21 March 2019, providing a venue for
stakeholders from various maritime sectors to discuss some of the main environmental threats
facing African coastal countries, including climate change, pollution, unsustainable fishing
practices, and maritime security. As part of this conference, members of the OA-Africa network,
in cooperation with the Abidjan Convention, will organize a side event on 19 March to present
the current status of ocean acidification research and awareness-raising efforts throughout
Africa. White papers for three major regions of Africa (West, East and North) will be presented.
This event will increase awareness about ocean acidification and research efforts in Africa and
foster a dialogue with scientists attending the Blue Oceans Conference. The white papers lay
out the needs and vision for future ocean acidification research in Africa and will help guide OA
projects in Africa to effectively report on SDG 14.3.
Directly following the Blue Oceans Conference, the OA-Africa Steering Committee will meet to
identify priorities and opportunities to advance ocean acidification monitoring, biological and
societal response studies throughout Africa. The Steering Committee meeting will be hosted
with support from the International Atomic Energy Agency Ocean Acidification International
Coordination Centre (IAEA- OA-ICC) and The Ocean Foundation (TOF).


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