Liberia: African Scientists Showcase Efforts to Addressing Ocean Acidification At High-Level Blue Ocean Confab

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," Professor Patrizia Ziveri said yesterday in Monrovia at the side event of the Blue Oceans conference.

He said 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.

According to him, the rapidly increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) not only alters the climate and the chemistry of the atmosphere, but it also is being absorbed by the oceans, causing a lowering of global pH levels, a process referred to as ocean acidification.

Prof. Ziveri said, "Past rapid ocean acidification periods in the history of the earth are not analogues for the present perturbation since their rates of change were far slower. The accelerated ongoing CO2 ocean uptake is out-pacing 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 of the ocean is expected to increase by 100-150 percent over pre-industrial levels by the end of this century."

As part of this conference, members of the OA-Africa network, in cooperation with the Abidjan Convention, organize a side event 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) are being presented at the OA-Africa Network-side event.

This event, according to OA-Africa-Sheck Sherif increases awareness about ocean acidification and research efforts in Africa and foster a dialogue with scientists attending the Blue Oceans Conference.

The white papers, he said, 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 yesterday identified priorities and opportunities to advance ocean acidification monitoring, biological and societal response studies throughout Africa.

The Steering Committee meeting was hosted with support from the International Atomic Energy Agency Ocean Acidification International Coordination Centre (IAEA- OA-ICC) and The Ocean Foundation (TOF).

Ocean Acidification Africa (OA-Africa; https://www.oa-africa.net/) is a pan-African network working to coordinate and promote ocean acidification awareness and research in Africa.

The network is composed of more than 100 scientists interested in conducting ocean acidification research in Africa.

OA- Africa is part of the wider Global Ocean Acidification Observing Network (www.goa-on.org) as one of seven regional hubs. About the Abidjan Convention The Convention for Cooperation in the Protection, Management and Development of the Marine and Coastal Environment of the Atlantic Coast of the West, Central and Southern Africa Region (Abidjan Convention in short) covers a marine area from Mauritania to South Africa which has a coastline of just over 14,000 km.

The Convention provides an overarching legal framework for all marine-related programs in West, Central and Southern Africa.

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