Browsing articles tagged with " outreach"

Scientists on the Road travel to Science Festivals

Aug 20, 2013   //   by Athena   //   Blog, Outreach  //  Comments Off on Scientists on the Road travel to Science Festivals

It was an interesting summer for Scientists on the Road. We participated in two big science events.  At the Big Bang Near Me@Bournemouth and Poole and the Winchester Science Festival.

 Scientists on the road  tried with an easy and fun hands-on activity to explain to students and future scientists Ocean Acidification and its impact on the ocean and sea organisms.

Eleni, Greame and Migue at The Big Bang Near Me event @Bournemouth and Poole

Approximately one quarter of carbon dioxide emitted by humans in the air is absorbed by the ocean. This alters the chemical composition of the sea: a more acidic water threatens the life conditions of organisms whose skeletons or cells are made of calcium carbonate, such as phytoplankton, snails, mussels or, more evident to the human eye, corals. In order to explain children how Ocean Acidification works, we used red cabbage juice, a safe acid/base indicator which reacts in a clear manner to the introduction of CO2 by changing colour.

The star of the show was some red cabbage juice. We poured a very small volume of the cooled juice into test tubes and we asked children to blow through a drinking straw repeatedly for a few minutes until they could see the cabbage juice turn noticeably pinker that the juice in the bottle.

What has happened?  The carbon dioxide in the breath combined with the water in the cabbage juice (cabbage is an acid indicator) to form carbonic acid, causing the pH of the solution to drop and the cabbage juice to turn pink.

Why this is interesting? About a quarter of the carbon dioxide released by activities like burning fossils fuels is absorbed by oceans and as a result the ocean water becomes more acidic, like the cabbage juice in the experiment.

Our simple experiment was particularly successful; the children and some of their teachers too, had a lot of fun blowing into the cabbage juice and after the experiment they told us that they now have a better understanding of what ocean acidification is and why it is important.

It was great a experience for us all, as well. The experiment stimulated the imagination of the young students and during the lively discussion afterwards they were able to offer us some out of box thinking and we came up with some rather pioneering ideas and innovative solutions of how to combat ocean acidification.


Eleni Angnostou
Graeme MacGilhrist
Migue Martínez-Botí 
Athena Drakou

We have some exciting news to share!

Mar 30, 2012   //   by Athena   //   Blog  //  Comments Off on We have some exciting news to share!

The recently published paper in Science “The Geological Record of Ocean Acidification”,  result of a workshop led by Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and the University of Bristol, has received considerable attention and publicity.

Two “Descent into Icehouse” scientists, Dr Samantha Gibbs and Dr Gavin Foster from the Ocean and Earth ScienceNational Oceanography Centre, University of Southampton, are co-authors in this study.

The paper made a headline in New Scientist  and a blog post at the World’s Bank blog “Development in a Changing Climate“.  And if you think this publicity is too much to bear….. Beware: More exciting news are coming.

On 21st March, Energy and Commerce Committee Ranking Member Henry A. Waxman and Energy and Power Subcommittee Ranking Member Bobby L. Rush requested a hearing on the rapid acidifying of oceans due to rising emissions of carbon dioxide.

The full text of the letter is below, also available online here.

March 21, 2012

The Honorable Fred Upton
Energy and Commerce Committee
U.S. House of Representatives
2125 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515

The Honorable Ed Whitfield
Subcommittee on Energy and Power
U.S. House of Representatives
2125 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515

Dear Chairman Upton and Chairman Whitfield:

While many are familiar with the scientific evidence that carbon dioxide emissions are responsible for climate change, fewer are aware of carbon dioxide’s serious effects on our oceans. We are writing to urge you to hold a hearing on a new scientific study showing that the ocean is acidifying at an unprecedented rate due to rising emissions of carbon dioxide.

The world’s oceans serve as sponges to absorb excess carbon dioxide. But when carbon dioxide enters the oceans too quickly, oceans can acidify, damaging sensitive marine ecosystems and species. According to the United Nations Environment Program, ocean acidification is “rapidly becoming a critical issue with the potential, if unabated, to affect many species and their ecosystems, pertinently including those associated with human food resources.”

Columbia University, the University of Bristol, and others recently examined the geologic record over the last 300 million years for evidence of significant periods of ocean acidification. The researchers concluded the current rate of ocean acidification is at least ten times faster than at any other point in the Earth’s history, including periods that led to major extinctions.

Professor Andy Ridgwell from the University of Bristol stated that the study suggests that “the current acidification is potentially unparalleled” and “raises the possibility that we are entering an unknown territory of marine ecosystem change.

These findings underscore one of the potentially serious consequences of failing to act to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide. We urge you to schedule a hearing on this matter as soon as possible.


Henry A. Waxman
Ranking Member

Bobby L. Rush
Ranking Member
Subcommittee on Energy and Power


Read our Press Release about the study here