Future Seas: the influence of pH on the viability of model sea microcosms

Ocean acidification results from the burning of fossil fuels, as the additional  atmospheric burden  carbon dioxide generated by this, forces more of this gas into our seas making  them more acidic. This change in sea chemistry is likely to have a dramatic impact upon the health of our oceans and scientists have discovered that already the shells of marine snails in seas around Antarctica are being corroded by this process. Whilst, these observations are deeply unsettling,  it is the life forms that we can’t see, and how we influence their activities, that are the pivotal factors that will govern the health of our seas and that will shape their life supporting chemistry.  Our planets oceans teem with invisible microbial life such that a single millilitre of seawater, in a genetic and microbial sense, has more complexity than the human genome.  To highlight these important but often overlooked players in climate change,  I’m developing a number of novel process which reveal these normally invisible life forms, and their impact,  in an aesthetic manner. Here I have established a number of microcosms derived from seawater and varied the pH (the levels of acidity and alkalinity) to reflect and model ocean acidification. We will find our future in one of these microcosms, some have flourished, others have struggled, and some are lifeless.

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