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University researcher’s climate change study forms base of new display at The Deep
25 February 2020
A University of Hull researcher’s study into the impact of climate change on oceans is on show to the public as a new display opens at The Deep.
Dr Christina Roggatz, a research fellow working within the Energy & Environment Institute at the university, has focused her work on how dropping ocean pH due to increasing carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere can affect marine organisms.
She also recently investigated how two of the most potent biotoxins in the oceans are affected by climate change and showed that they will become more toxic by the year 2100.
Dr Roggatz’s research now forms the basis of a new display unveiled at The Deep in Hull on Saturday, February 15.
Titled ‘Changing Seas,’ the display will inform visitors about how climate change is affecting our oceans and what this means for the animals which live there.
Dr Roggatz said: “This display is the culmination of around a year of collaboration between the university and The Deep.
“The purpose of the display is to inform people about the impact of climate change on our oceans, by providing new facts people did not know before.
“They will definitely learn something new, because the effects of pH on smell molecules and biotoxins have only recently been uncovered.
“The molecule models we calculated on the University’s supercomputer VIPER make the influence of climate change very visible and now form an integral part of the new exhibit.
“They show the impact of climate change at a very different level to what people usually get to see and know.”
The display was designed and executed in-house by a team of aquarists at The Deep, and took almost a year from concept to completion.
The team paired with Dr Roggatz following her recent research study into the field.
Dr Roggatz first trained as a marine biologist. She came to Hull in 2013 for a PhD in chemistry and now conducts research combining both disciplines at the Energy and Environment Institute.
Her studies on ocean acidification have gained recognition with several publications in leading journals, including Nature Climate Change.
Ben Jones, curator at The Deep said: “This exhibit tells a really important story and is designed to help our visitors understand the threats to our oceans.
“Throughout history, small changes in water chemistry have taken millions of years, giving animals plenty of time to adapt.
“However the rate of ocean acidification is now faster than ever. pH change is an invisible danger, quietly changing our seas with potentially disastrous consequences.
“By the year 2100, the pH of the ocean is estimated to fall from 8.1 to 7.7. This small change of 0.4pH will mean the seas are 4 times more acidic causing huge problems for marine life.
“We hope by showcasing this issue within our exhibit, we can inspire our visitors to make a difference and help protect the oceans from further damage.”
The Deep’s new display, Changing Seas, will feature several species of toxic animals, including red lionfish, yellow dog-faced pufferfish and leopard moray eels.
Dr Roggatz said: “It is a great honour to have my work go on display at The Deep.
“For me as a young scientist, it is a chance to give something back as well. All of this research depends on funding, and as well as publishing it and communicating to other scientists, I want to give the newly gained knowledge back to the public.
“When people are informed on all the different aspects happening in the world with climate change, that is when it becomes easier to act on it.
“Hopefully this display will help visitors to fully understand the different and hidden impacts on our oceans – the change is happening right in front of them.”