In order to assess the impact of anthropogenic carbon dioxide (CO2) on the oceans today we are investigating the effect of decreasing upper ocean pH on calcifying zooplankton. Pteropods, pelagic molluscs often referred to as “sea butterflies”, are widely considered to be a sentinel species of ocean acidification on account of their delicate aragonite shell. At high latitudes, the cold surface ocean absorbs more CO2 from the atmosphere, making polar pteropods particularly susceptible to low pH conditions. Together with the Ecosystem team we are studying the health and shell condition of pteropods in the Arctic and Subantarctic to assess their ability to tolerate and/or adapt to future CO2 levels.
For further information, please refer to the NERC Sea Surface Consortium UK Ocean Acidification website: www.surfaceoa.org.uk.