Nearly 30 percent of the carbon dioxide released into Earth’s atmosphere is absorbed by the oceans, resulting in a chemical reaction that makes seawater more acidic. As acidity increases, seawater holds less calcium carbonate—an important building material used by many marine organisms, including corals, bivalves, and crustaceans. Increases in ocean acidity are projected to accelerate over the next century and are likely to cause many marine species to grow and reproduce more slowly. Because Japan is an island nation with a long coast and an economy dependent on the fishing industry, it will probably be significantly affected by ocean acidification. Unfortunately, monitoring of its domestic seawater chemistry remains limited.
Haruko Kurihara will assess the current extent and local variability of ocean acidification in Japan by establishing new water chemistry monitoring sites in the country’s near-shore habitats—spanning subtropical to subarctic ecosystems. Working in controlled conditions, she will test the vulnerability of key commercially important species to acidification, use models to predict the risks of rising acidity on Japanese coasts, and share this information with decision-makers and local communities. Kurihara will also explore the viability of acidification-resistant strains of commercially produced shellfish.
Ultimately, this work should help improve understanding of the vulnerability of Japanese coastal ecosystems and marine fisheries to ocean acidification and to help develop management solutions to increase their resilience.
To learn more about Kurihara, read her bio: http://www.biology.sci.u-ryukyu.ac.jp/?post_type=laboratory&p=649&lang=en.