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UAF Establishes Ocean Acidification Research Center


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Aug. 27, 2010

Fairbanks, Alaska—The University of Alaska Fairbanks has created a new research center dedicated to studying ocean acidification in Alaska.

Jeremy Mathis, assistant professor of chemical oceanography and an ocean acidification expert, will be the director of the center.

Ocean acidification is a term to describe increasing acidity in the world’s oceans. The ocean absorbs carbon dioxide from the air. As the ocean absorbs more carbon dioxide, seawater becomes more acidic. Scientists estimate that the ocean is 25 percent more acidic today than it was 300 years ago. According to Mathis, ocean acidification is happening more rapidly, and more severely, in Alaska waters.

“The Ocean Acidification Research Center will provide a unique opportunity to collect an unprecedented dataset in a vulnerable region,” said Mathis.

According to Mathis, the research will focus on three areas: long-term monitoring and modeling, field observations in sensitive areas and the physiological responses of at-risk and commercially valuable marine organisms.

“Alaska communities need viable strategies to anticipate and respond to future changes brought on by ocean acidification,” said Mathis.

Current research associated with the center include projects that will deploy several monitoring stations to measure changes in ocean chemistry in the Gulf of Alaska and Alaska’s arctic waters, and a study of how juvenile walleye pollock may respond to changing acidity levels. The center will also serve as a central repository for information about ocean acidification in Alaska.

Mathis will work with state and federal officials to secure partial funding for the center.  Most of the center’s resources will come from competitive-funding opportunities within agencies such as the National Science Foundation, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Bureau of Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement.

Information about the new center is available online at www.sfos.uaf.edu/oarc.

About the UAF School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences
The UAF School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences conducts world-class marine and fisheries research, education and outreach across Alaska, the Arctic and Antarctic. 60 faculty scientists and 150 students are engaged in building knowledge about Alaska and the world's coastal and marine ecosystems. SFOS is headquartered at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, and serves the state from facilities located in Seward, Juneau, Anchorage and Kodiak.

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