photo: Corel Draw

Ocean Acidification over time

This IGBP-SCOR initiative entitled Atmospheric CO2 and Ocean Biogeochemistry: Modern Observations and Past Experiences was launched in 2005 to investigate past changes in ocean biogeochemistry in order to better understand the consequences of ongoing ocean acidification.

The main purpose of this FTI was to apply insights gained from paleo-environmental reconstruction and analysis to improve our understanding of the potential consequences for the marine environment of the chemical effects of future CO2 emissions. This FTI helped those working on paleo-environmental studies to understand what kinds of research would have the greatest potential to improve our understanding of the future. Thus, this FTI promoted communication across disciplinary boundaries, allowing cross-fertilization to occur between those working on paleo-environmental problems and those working on problems associated with effects of human activities. It involved participation from SOLAS, IMBER, LOICZ, GLOBEC, IMAGES, IGBP, SCOR and PAGES.

The FTI built on the 2004 SCOR/IOC Symposium entitled The Oceans in a High CO2 World in Paris and the UK Royal Society study on surface ocean acidification

Harry Elderfield (UK), Ulf Riebesell (Germany), Ken Caldeira (USA), Joanie Kleypas (USA), Wally Broecker (USA) and Franck Bassinot (France).

Executive Director of PAGES: Thorsten Kiefer, IGBP-SC Contact: Bob Duce


  • “Ocean Acidification - modern observations and past experiences”, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University, USA (28-30 September 2006)
  • Related ESF-PAGES Workshop: Atmospheric CO2 Ocean Acidification, and Ecological changes in Planktonic Calcifying Organisms, 26-28 September 2007—Barcelona, Spain.
  • Related ESF Strategic Workshop on Impacts of Ocean Acidification: 28-30 January 2008, Meloneras, Gran Canaria, Participation of the FTI and inclusion of cross-timescale aspects in their reports.


Turley, C, Henderiks, J. (2007) Learning from the Distant Past, IMBER Update, 6, 11-13.

Kiefer, T. (2006) IGBP-SCOR Workshop: Ocean acidification—modern observations and past experiences, PAGES News, 14:3, 29-30.

Kolbert, E. (2006) The Darkening Sea, The New Yorker, 2006-11-20, 66-75. (Magazine article of journalist attending the workshop)

Published peer-reviewed articles:

Ridgwell, A, Schmidt, D. (2010) Past constraints on the vulnerability of marine calcifiers to massive carbon dioxide release, Nature Geocience, doi: 10.1038/ngeo755.

From related events:

Ziveri, P. (2008) Understanding Marine Biotic Responses to Fossil Fuel Emissions, Eos, 89:13, 127. (Workshop report ESF- EuroCLIMATE Workshop)

Ziveri, P., et al. (2008) Atmospheric CO2, ocean acidification, and ecological changes in planktonic calcifying organisms, The Eggs, 23. (Workshop report ESF- EuroCLIMATE Workshop)

Kiefer, T., Barker, S., Schmidt, D. and Ziveri, P. (2008) Improving our understanding of the marine biotic response to anthropogenic CO2 emissions, PAGES News, 16:2, 35-36. (Workshop report ESF- EuroCLIMATE Workshop)

Future plans:

  • PAGES commits to continuing work on this topic and has included Ocean acidification into Focus 3, “Global ES Dynamics”, of its Science Plan under the Theme “Past perspectives on Ocean Biogeochemistry”
  • A paleo ocean acidification group will be formally established in PAGES, to organise collaborative activities in the wider context of IGBP and SCOR, hence following the cross-project, cross-timescale, and cross-disciplinary spirit of the FTI. This will be initiated at the PAGES Open Science Meeting in 2009