Carnegie Mellon University

The Piper

CMU Community News

Piper Logo
February 04, 2013

Lecture Spotlight: Dickson Prize Winner Studies Greenhouse Gas Effect on Oceans

By Jocelyn Duffy

morelCarbon dioxide emissions have skyrocketed since the industrial revolution, leading to calamitous consequences. While much attention has been paid to the atmospheric effects of CO2 and its contributions to global warming, the release of the greenhouse gas also is dramatically altering our oceans.

About one-quarter of the CO2 released into the atmosphere gets absorbed into the Earth's oceans. As the amount of CO2 in the oceans increases, the pH of the water decreases, a process referred to as ocean acidification. Over time, acidification could lead to large-scale changes in the ocean's ecosystem, which some say could lead to crashes in fisheries stock and the disappearance of coral reefs.

The recipient of the 2012 Dickson Prize in Science, François M. M. Morel, the Albert G. Blanke Professor of Geosciences at Princeton University, is world renowned for his contributions to understanding the biological and chemical processes that influence the marine ecosystem.

During this year's Dickson Prize Lecture, titled "Ocean Acidification: Causes, Time Scales and Consequences," Morel will discuss how the increasing CO2 concentration in the oceans and resulting drop in pH impact key processes, such as photosynthesis and nitrogen fixation. The lecture, which is free and open to the public, will be held at 4:30 p.m., Monday, March 4 in McConomy Auditorium.

Morel's work has been widely recognized by the scientific community. A member of the National Academy of Sciences, he was awarded the C.C. Patterson Medal from the Geochemical Society, the Maurice Ewing Medal from the American Geophysical Union, the Urey Medal from the European Association for Geochemistry and the ENI Award's Protection of the Environment Prize.

Given annually since 1970, the Dickson Prize in Science is awarded by Carnegie Mellon to an individual who has made outstanding contributions to science in the United States.

What: Dickson Prize Lecture, "Ocean Acidification: Causes, Time Scales and Consequences"
When: 4:30 p.m., Monday, March 4
Where: McConomy Auditorium