We share the growing concern over ocean acidification, caused by the ocean's uptake of atmospheric carbon dioxide produced by human activities, and the vulnerability of marine ecosystems to these changes. Ocean acidification provides yet further impetus to the case for urgent action on tackling and adapting to climate change because of the rapid rate of change already being measured. These issues are key to the delivery of a broad range of Defra's objectives in the marine and adaption to climate change programmes, and we have been pleased to see it coming up the IPCC's agenda.
The wider impacts of ocean acidification are not well understood at present. The recently announced UK Ocean Acidification Programme where Defra has joined together with the Natural Environment Research Council and the Department of Energy and Climate Change aims to drive forward this area of research. This £12 million, five year research programme will address the policy and societal need for a greater understanding of the implications of ocean acidification and its risks to marine biogeochemistry and biodiversity and impact on the whole earth system. Ocean acidification is also an issue highlighted in the latest Marine Climate Change Impacts Partnership (MCCIP) report launched last April (see www.mccip.org.uk/elr/default.htm).