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Visiting scientist to discuss threat of ocean acidification

Submitted by Carin Stephens
Phone: 907-322-8730

09/18/08

One of the world's preeminent experts on ocean acidification will visit Fairbanks next week and hold a public lecture on the effects of rising carbon dioxide levels in the ocean.

Richard Feely is an oceanographer at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association's Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory in Seattle.

The public lecture will be held at 7 p.m., Wednesday, Sept. 24, at the Princess Riverside Lodge in Fairbanks.

According to Jeremy Mathis, a chemical oceanographer at UAF's School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences, Feely has been a leading expert on ocean acidification for at least 20 years. In his abstract for the talk, Feely says that today's record high carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere are the "direct result of the industrial and agricultural activities of humans over the past two centuries."

Feely adds that carbon dioxide levels are "now higher than experienced on Earth for at least the last 800,000 years." Feely believes that these levels will continue to rise.

Feely will discuss the short and long term implications of ocean acidification on marine mammals, fish species and the economies that depend on the world's marine resources.

"Ocean acidification is probably the most imminent threat to the oceans today," said Mathis. He adds that ocean acidification is particularly harmful in Alaska, where cooler waters can speed up the rate of acidification.

The UAF School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences conducts world-class marine and fisheries research, education and outreach across Alaska, the Arctic and Antarctic. 55 faculty scientists and 135 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.

NOTE TO EDITORS: Richard Feely and Jeremy Mathis will be available to speak to reporters about the specific consequences of ocean acidification in Alaska's waters. Please contact Carin Stephens, public information officer, to speak with either expert.