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EMODnet Chemistry publishes recommendations for ocean acidification data management

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Schematic illustration of key components and changes of the ocean and cryosphere, and their linkages in the Earth system through the global exchange of heat, water, and carbon. ©IPCC (2019) Technical Summary (Pörtner H-O et al.)

The new version of the guidelines entitled "Updated guidelines for SeaDataNet ODV production: Eutrophication & Contaminants " has just been published by EMODnet Chemistry with notable new features.

Standardisation is one of the most important pillars to ensure FAIRness of data. In line with this widely accepted principle, the guidelines aim to illustrate how EMODnet Chemistry uses the SeaDatanet infrastructure to harmonise and validate data. It adopts a set of standards for metadata description, vocabularies & data formats, data quality control procedures. It also uses a set of SeaDataNet software tools specifically developed for metadata & data formatting, data exchange and visualisation: Mikado, Nemo, Octopus and Ocean Data View. The document also explains how the SeaDataNet data management system allows you to create “time series” and “vertical profiles” types of files. Users will also find a list of the most important problems and common errors and how to solve or avoid them.

In addition to information on the correct submission of data for contaminants (in sediment, water column and biota) and for chlorophyll, organic matter, nutrients, dissolved gases and dissolved oxygen (in the water column), this edition of the guide includes a full section dealing with ocean acidity.

Ocean acidification is a slow but accelerating impact with consequences that will greatly overshadow all the oil spills put together." This quote by the American marine biologist Sylvia Earle is unfortunately true. Just say that since the pre-industrial era, the ocean has absorbed 20-30% of the excess CO2, with the ocean acidity increasing by 30% and the pH decreasing by 0.0016 units per year. This has various impacts on the marine environment, mainly the alteration of the carbonate system, which poses a threat to biodiversity, marine ecosystems and related economic activities. Due to its relevance, the Copernicus Marine Service has included ocean acidification in the Ocean Monitoring Indicators, which are used to track important signals of ocean health in line with climate change. The problem is also strongly considered in the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (SDG target 14.3).

The guidelines highlight that the inclusion of parameters such as temperature, salinity, pressure and, if available, also silicate and phosphate, is important to allow a correct description of the carbonate system. More importantly, ocean acidity parameters (i.e. pH, TA, pCO2(aq), pCO2(atm), fCO2, DIC and TA) should be added whenever available. They highly recommend checking units for correctness and stress that adding metadata such as the collection method and the analysing instrument would avoid ambiguity and ensure the long-term usability of the data. Moreover, it is also advised for pH to include the pH scale. 

EMODnet Chemistry intends to further revise the acidity vocabulary in close collaboration with the metadata and vocabulary working groups of UNESCO. If you are interested in learning more on this theme, stay tuned!



Changes in atmospheric CO2 and consequences on the oceans
Changes in atmospheric CO2 and consequences on the oceans. © Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI)