New project in Novia examines the effects of climate change on the health and fat reserves of zooplankton

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NOAA photo Meg Chadsey

Novia University of Applied Sciences receives funding from the Research Council of Finland (Suomen Akatemia in Finnish) for continued research on the impact of climate change on marine ecosystems. 

Special Researcher Jonna Engström-Öst and her team within the Research Theme Ecosystem Services at Novia University of Applied Sciences have been granted a project to investigate how global warming and ocean acidification affect our marine ecosystem. The focus of the project is pelagic plankton, a fundamental part of the ocean’s food chain. 

The project embarks on an expedition in 2025 

The project will collect samples in the California Current, in the coastal area that extends from Mexico to Canada, to examine how planktonic lipids, i.e., the composition of crucial Omega-3 fatty acids necessary for growth, survival, and reproduction, change in response to elevating temperature and ocean acidification. 

“The main theme of the expedition is ocean acidification, which indicates that when carbon dioxide that we emit from, for example, vehicles mix with seawater, the pH value drops because there is an excess of hydrogen ions. This has negative effects on marine organisms. We do not yet know to what extent, but probably a large scale,” says Jonna Engström-Öst. Dead coral reefs are already a widespread phenomenon. 

During the expedition, energy concentrations in various marine animal species will be measured: krill, copepods, crabs, mollusks. 

The funding also supports an experiment in the Greek archipelago conducted at natural carbon dioxide venting sources in Methana. The idea is to simulate the effects of ‘future’ pH values in the sea. Furthermore, a large-scale indoor experiment will be conducted at Tvärminne Zoological Station regarding alkalinity enhancement by ‘liming seawater’. Key species will be examined to monitor their well-being and observe if improved, following lime addition. 

Research on climate change has previously been conducted in the Baltic Sea area by Novia’s researchers at the Faculty of Bioeconomy in Raseborg. 

With the funding from Research Council of Finland, the researchers take an important step towards understanding and possibly mitigating the threats that global warming and ocean acidification pose to marine ecosystems. 

The project begins in 2024 and will continue until 2028. The Research Council of Finland supports the project with 360,000 euros. 

Caption: The expedition (West Coast Ocean Acidification cruise WCOA) in the Pacific Ocean will be carried out in 2025 on the vessel R/V Ronald H. Brown, owned by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NOAA, in the USA (Photo: Meg Chadsey). 

For more information contact

Novia UAS, Special Researcher Jonna Engström-Öst, phone: 050 592 9224