Formation of the Latin-American Ocean Acidification Network, LAOCA Network!

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Since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, the world’s ocean water has gradually become more acidic. Like global warming, this process, which is known as Ocean Acidification, is direct consequence of increasing levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) by human activities.  At date, the present changes represent approximately a 30 percent increase in acidity. Future predictions indicate that the oceans will continue to absorb carbon dioxide and become even more acidic. Ocean Acidification may affect many marine organisms in varying degrees, but especially those that build their shells and skeletons with calcium carbonate (CaCO3), such as corals, oysters, clams, mussels, snails, and small algae. Effects might cover a wide spectrum, such as, depression in metabolic rates, depression in immune responses upon pathogens, coral bleaching, reproduction, growth and calcification in shell organisms.

This December 15th, 2015, in the city of Concepcion, Chile, it was officially established the Latin-American Ocean Acidification Network (LAOCA Network). A group of 24 scientists from seven Latin-American countries, including Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Mexico, and Chile, worked all together on a regional workshop, which was funded by the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission IOC-UNESCO, the Ocean Acidification International Coordination Centre (OA-ICC), the Center for the Study of Multiple-Drivers on Marine Socio-Ecological Systems (MUSELS), and the Millennium Institute of Oceanography (IMO) in Chile. During two days of hard work, the group of scientists, were devoted to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of each country in relation to ocean acidification’ research. Along with this analysis it was defined the mission and goals of what would be LAOCA Network, which has among ten main objectives:

  • (i) to synthesize the information about ocean acidification impacts in Latin-American
  • (ii) to encourage the implementation, maintenance, and calibration of long-term data-set of carbonate chemistry in Latin-America
  • (iii) training of LAOCA members in the different action lines (e.g. observation, experimentation, and modeling)
  • (iv) to standardize chemical analytical techniques and protocols for experimentation in order to enhance data quality
  • (v) to establish a regional node for the articulation and communication between local, regional, and global research programs (e.g. GOA-ON and IOCCP)
  • (vi) to determine and evaluate local and regional scenarios of Ocean Acidification for different types of marine ecosystems (e.g. estuaries, coastal area, open ocean, etc)
  • (vii) to enhance student exchange and to facilitate access to infrastructure and equipment among institutions and LAOCA member countries
  • (viii) to design an outreach strategy for communicate the problematic of ocean acidification to society, (ix) to promote the development of cooperation projects between member countries of LAOCA.
  • (x) to promote the inclusion of the problematic of Ocean Acidification on the political agenda of member countries, and even through the pursuit of cooperation agreements among LAOCA members.

Finally, scientists defined an executive council, which will be leaded by two co-chairs; Drs. Nelson Lagos (Chile) and Leticia da Cunha (Brasil), and Dr. Cristian A. Vargas (Chile) as an international program representational member from the Global Ocean Acidification Observing Network (GOA-ON) and the International Ocean Carbon Coordination Program (IOCCP). This council will be also composed by one representative from each country; Alejandro Bianchi (Argentina), Rodrigo Kerr (Brasil), Alberto Acosta (Colombia), Patricia Castillo-Briceño (Ecuador), Michelle Graco (Perú), José Martín Hernández-Ayón (México), and Patricio Manríquez (Chile). A first meeting of this executive council will be carried out during May next year, which will be focused on to plan scientific and collaborative work for this first year of operation.

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