Western Indian Ocean Marine Science Association

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Ocean Acidification

Photo Credit: TAFIRI Project

Ocean Acidification Monitoring Projects

The continued increased CO2 in oceans is generating sweeping changes in the chemistry of seawater, especially on the carbonate system. These changes are collectively known as “ocean acidification” because increased CO2 lowers seawater pH (i.e., increases its acidity). Although atmospheric CO2 is the major driver of ocean acidification globally, Nitrogen and phosphate runoff from agricultural, industrial, urban and domestic sources cause acidification of coastal waters. The relative importance of these sources to that of global CO2 – is a matter of active research, but it appears that coastal pollution can be locally significant with regard to acidification, at scales of tens to hundreds of kilometres. Ocean acidification has the potential to affect different sectors including food security, tourism, carbon storage and climate regulation.

Little is known when it comes to monitoring of ocean acidification in the WIO region. WIOMSA in partnership with the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO (IOC-UNESCO), the IAEA Ocean Acidification International Coordination Centre (OA-ICC) and the Global Ocean Acidification Observing Network (GOA-ON), together with country partners are implementing ocean acidification monitoring projects in the region. 

The main objective of the projects is to establish baseline data for the carbonate system in the Western Indian Ocean and to document the ongoing ocean acidification along the coast in an effort to support global development goals (SDG) particular 14.3 to minimize and address the impact of ocean acidification.

Currently, we are supporting six projects in the region. The projects are implemented in Kenya, Mauritius, Mozambique, Tanzania, Seychelles and South Africa. The region’s joint objectives and more specifically for the ocean acidification projects are to:

  • Establish Ocean Acidification observation and research in the Western Indian Ocean to help countries to achieve the SDG target 14.3 of minimizing the impacts of ocean acidification
  • Create a community of practice in the Western Indian Ocean for ocean acidification and other stressors on the marine environment
  • Relate the ocean acidification observation to species of socio-economic importance to make the science relevant to society

Participating institutions are:

  • Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute (Kenya)
  • Mauritius Oceanography Institute and University of Mauritius (Mauritius),
  • University of Eduardo Mondlane (Mozambique)
  • Tanzania Fisheries Research Institute (Tanzania)
  • University of Seychelles (Seychelles)
  • Oceanographic Research Institute (South Africa)