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Conditioning reefs for the future
Date:12/7/2010

In a world first, a new 'state of the art' climate change experimental facility has been completed at the University of Queensland's Heron Island Research Station.

The Climate Change Mesocosm (CCM) project led by Associate Professor Sophie Dove and Dr. David Kline from the Global Change Institute's Coral Reef Ecosystems Laboratory is one of the largest and most accurately controlled ocean acidification and warming experimental systems in the world and simulates ocean temperatures and acidification levels predicted to occur on coral reefs in the next 50 to 100 years.

Able to regulate both temperature and CO2 levels prescribed by the 2100 IPCC scenarios in a highly controlled environment, the CCM system allows studies of climate change from the molecular to the ecosystem level.

"While similar to the "Free Ocean Carbon Enrichment" (FOCE) project, recently featured in Sir David Attenborough's documentary "Death of the Oceans", the CCM differs in that it regulates the temperature, in addition to, the acidification levels above and below the current ambient conditions of water on the reef" said Dr Dove.

It is unique in so far as the experimental controls allow variation with respect to real-time conditions of CO2 and temperature measured in the adjacent deepwater of Wistari channel."

Conditions in the 72 experimental aquaria and 12 mini-reefs can then fluctuate a fixed amount above or below the ambient 'control' conditions, but importantly incorporate a day/night and seasonal variability."

The main components of the system are 4 x 7,500L custom built air-tight and insulated fibre-glass tanks or sumps which provide the necessary residence time of the water for the fine control of CO2 and temperature.

Dr David Kline a research fellow with the GCI explains "We are simulating preindustrial ocean conditions of -100 ppm CO2 and minus 1C; a control treatment of curre
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Contact: Robert Mackay-Wood
r.mackaywood@uq.edu.au
61-410-491-159
Global Change Institute
Source:Eurekalert

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