The damage being caused to our ocean by human activity and climate change has never been more apparent. However, the precise effects of ocean acidification – and how it might impact the marine environment now and in the future – are sometimes difficult to convey.
A new collaboration between world-leading researchers from the University of Plymouth, and Plymouth-based artist and scientist Dr Kate Crawfurd, aims to overcome that in a striking but playful and innovative way.
The Ocean Organ illustrates, using installation and theatre, the many ways in which the climate emergency is affecting the ocean’s ability to act as sources and sinks for carbon dioxide.
Designed to resemble a cathedral organ, it consists of a series of pipes bubbling with a spectrum of coloured liquids based on the chemical effects of CO₂ on the ocean.
The colour of seawater within the pipes can be altered depending on the differing levels of CO₂ present, using red cabbage as a natural pH indicator dye that reacts quickly to small pH changes.
The installation is accompanied by examples of seashells and other calcified marine life to demonstrate the effects of ocean acidification on species vital to the health of the entire planet.
It also examines some of the solutions that could reduce rising carbon dioxide levels such as floating wind farms, seaweed farming and the recovery of coastal wetlands.
The project is partly inspired by the research of Jason Hall-Spencer, Professor of Marine Biology at the University of Plymouth, and one of the world’s leading experts on ocean acidification and warming.
He led the first study to show the ecosystem effects of long-term ocean acidification and, with colleagues across the world, has demonstrated that it could have serious consequences for marine life and for the millions of people globally whose lives depend on coastal protection, fisheries and aquaculture.