Inaugural lecture - Professor Daniela Schmidt

Professor of Paleobiology
School of Earth Sciences

This lecture took place on Tuesday 23 February 2016 

The other half of the CO2 problem - with the eyes of a geologist

The ocean serves us in many ways from regulating climate to providing food, livelihood and recreation. The increase of atmospheric CO2 over the last century has led to a measurable warming and decrease in surface ocean pH, a process termed ocean acidification. Ocean acidification is one of the key challenges facing our society. While the chemical principles behind ocean acidification are well understood, the biological consequences are much more difficult to quantify. The geological record, though, records the biotic reactions of marine calcifiers to climate change and I have studied a number of intervals in the deep time records as well as the last hundreds of years. We were able to show that the rate of ocean acidification today is faster than any change since the dinosaurs went extinct 65 million years ago and hence is unchartered territory for a large number of organisms alive today. Palaeontological evidence of past climate change provides important inputs into our assessment of the impact of future climate change on marine ecosystems.