BIOS submits papers to climate change conference

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Scientists from the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences (BIOS) have contributed to a series of reports which will help set global policy on climate change.

Among the documents to be discussed at the United Nations Climate Change Conference are the findings of BIOS experts in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and ocean acidification.

The COP15 summit in Copenhagen, Denmark, is being attended by delegates from 192 countries and will aim to forge the first new UN pact on climate change in 12 years.


Scientists from the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences (BIOS) have contributed to a series of reports which will help set global policy on climate change.

Among the documents to be discussed at the United Nations Climate Change Conference are the findings of BIOS experts in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and ocean acidification.

The COP15 summit in Copenhagen, Denmark, is being attended by delegates from 192 countries and will aim to forge the first new UN pact on climate change in 12 years.

In 1997 the Kyoto Protocol set ceiling limits on greenhouse gas emissions for developed nations. It ends in 2012. BIOS scientist Nick Bates said: "The Kyoto Protocol was a good start but there weren't many of the developing nations in that treaty, and of course the US didn't sign it.

"It was also negotiated quite a few years ago. We have a lot more evidence of climate change since then. For example, the impact of ocean acidification has really increased."

BIOS has contributed papers on observations in the Arctic, the Gulf Stream, oceans as a carbon sink, and gaps in scientific monitoring of carbon cycles.

Their research will be translated into a more 'user-friendly' language for non-scientists to form part of the discussion.

The contributions by the BIOS scientists are unique due to the Institute's location in the mid-Atlantic. BIOS has the longest continuous record of ocean observations in the world, and is a recognised authority on CO2 measurements and ocean acidification.

Among the papers at COP15, Dr. Bates said his and Andreas Andersson's 'CLIMODE' study examines "where the Gulf Stream influences the uptake of CO2 by the oceans".

The pair contributed to a paper on the impact of the oceans on climate change. Dr. Bates also contributed to a report considered to be the most up-to-date assessment on how the ocean absorbs CO2 and what it releases back into the atmosphere.

"The ocean sink and its ability to take up CO2 is decreasing, which means the atmosphere's intake is going to increase," said Dr. Bates.

"This is a very important paper for policymakers as it helps us look at climate change going forward. It covers a wide range of issues including ocean acidification."

COP15 will also discuss his findings on the role of the Arctic as a carbon sink, absorbing excess CO2 from human activities.

In his journal papers and a report for the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), Dr. Bates warns large amounts of greenhouse gases will be released into the atmosphere as a result of sea ice loss and destruction of permafrost.

Ocean acidification will also affect the ability of marine organisms such as molluscs to create hard shells, impacting on the whole food chain, from whales to seals to human communities.

"The Arctic is the canary in the mine shaft, it's going to be the place where we see the largest changes in the climate," said Dr. Bates.

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