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Bigelow Scientist Explains Global Problem to Bristol Area Lions Club 02/01/2010

Posted by DS in meetings, speakers.
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Lion Carolyn McKeon thanks oceanographer William Balch for his presentation.

At the February 1 meeting of the Bristol Area Lions Club, members were made aware of an increasing global problem known as ocean acidification. In a presentation by Dr. William Balch, Senior Research Scientist and Educational Coordinator with the Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences in Boothbay Harbor, Lions learned that increasing levels of carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuel are impacting the health of shell fish and thereby food chains both on land and in the oceans.

A native of Massachusetts, Dr. Balch holds a Ph.D in biological oceanography from the University of California/Scripps Institute of Oceanography. As part of his current research, for NASA, Balch spends weeks on a research vessel both in the Gulf of Maine as well as in the southern hemisphere, studying the effects of increasing carbon dioxide levels on plankton, principal components of the ocean’s ecosystem. Some of those effects are manifested in underwater ocean blooms that are visible from space. Balch explained that if left unchecked, in the next 50 years carbon dioxide in the oceans is expected to double that of pre-industrial levels. The real issue, he emphasized, is one of balance in the ecosystem, and acidification upsets that balance. A recent federal act is supporting dedicated research on ocean acidification to seek solutions to this increasing worldwide problem.

During the presentation, Lions members learned that the 35-year-old Bigelow Laboratory is in the forefront of ocean research. In recent years it has been awarded the second most research dollars in Maine. Using key research themes of oceans and climate, marine ecosystem function, and microbial oceanography, Bigelow studies the oceans on all scales, from a global down to a genomic level.

When not researching the oceans at Bigelow Labs, Dr. Balch plays trombone as Barney Balch with the Novel Jazz Septet. He can be heard the third Thursday evening of most months leading that group at Skidompha Library. The group’s website, http://www.mainejazz.net, provides more information on performances.

On Monday, February 15 at 6:00, the next meeting of the Bristol Area Lions will feature a presentation by John Reny. To make dinner reservations for that meeting at the Willing Workers Hall please call Herb Watson at 677-6191, and to learn more about the Bristol Area Lions Club, contact John Janell at 563-7402.

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