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Study to focus on climate change, oceans, food chain

The Department for Environment, Food And Rural Affairs (Defra) today said it’s launching a five-year, £11 million study into the effects of climate change on Britain’s seas.

Scientists have warned that rising ocean acidity driven by increased levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide could affect  has the food chain. Ocean acidity has risen 30 per cent over the past 200 years, faster than any time in the last 65 million years.

As seas grow more acidic, they are less able to absorb additional carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. More acidic waters also threaten corals, plankton, shellfish and other vital links in the food chain.

Defra is undertaking its new research programme with the Natural Environment Research Councils (NERC). It will concentrate on the North East Atlantic, Antarctic and Arctic oceans and study the effects of acidification on biodiversity, habitats, species and wider socio-economic implications.

“Ocean acidification will be one of the biggest environmental concerns of this century, with major and far-reaching impacts,” said Huw Irranca-Davies, Minister for the Natural & Marine Environment. “We need to understand much more about the scale and nature of the effect CO2 is having on our oceans and marine life.”

A report published today by the Marine Climate Change Impacts Partnership highlights how many small effects of climate change are being magnified through important links with the marine environment, and how distant events such as melting Arctic sea ice may affect people, wildlife and the environment here.

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