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The Problem and THE CHALLENGE

Over the last 150 years, atmospheric carbon dioxide has increased from 290 ppm to 395 ppm, primarily due to the burning of fossil fuels. The ocean, as a primary carbon sink, is absorbing increasing amounts of atmospheric CO2, lowering surface water pH. Ocean acidification, together with changes in ocean temperature, salinity, and stratification, is impacting the global ocean ecosystem and potentially threatening marine food supplies.

The Paul G. Allen Family Foundation, as part of a larger ocean health initiative, and in collaboration with The Oceanography Society, is offering a $10,000 prize for the most promising new science-based concept for mitigating environmental and/or societal impacts of ocean acidification.

In addition to the prize, the authors of highly ranked concepts will receive invitations to submit full proposals to the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation for funding consideration.

Since 1990, the Foundation has awarded over $400 million to organizations around the world in support of science and technology, education, arts and culture, and community development. Within science and technology, significant multiyear awards have supported research on fisheries, environmental conservation and ecology, and medicine and health.

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Winning Concept

The Paul G. Allen Family Foundation has announced the winning concept. The $10,000 prize was awarded to Dr. Ruth D. Gates from the University of Hawaii at Manoa and Dr. Madeleine van Oppen from the Australian Institute of Marine Science for their idea to implant selectively bred coral into existing reefs to help the coral withstand acidified waters. See full announcement.

A total of 36 concepts were received from 7 countries and were evaluated by an international panel of oceanographic experts familiar with the problem of acidification. Six submissions were selected as Ocean Challenge finalists. These concepts were identified as highly relevant to the ocean acidification problem and offered approaches that would not only increase basic knowledge of the subject but would likely result in scalable procedures to reduce the impact on organisms, marine ecosystems, and/or industries.

Dr. Joth Davis (team lead), Puget Sound Restoration Fund, Bainbridge Island, WA, USA: "Cultivating seaweed to mitigate ocean acidification, and generate habitat, fertilizer, food and fuel"

Dr. Ruth Gates (team lead), University of Hawaii, Kaneohe, Hawaii, USA: "Building a biological toolkit to mitigate ocean acidification impacts and restore corals reefs"

Dr. Kenneth Johnson (team lead), MBARI, Moss Landing, CA, USA: "Towards a Global Ocean pH Observing System"

Dr. Bruce Menge (team lead), Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR, USA: "Mitigation of Ocean Acidification by Adaptation: Identification of Neighborhoods of Resilience"

Dr. Stephen Palumbi (team lead), Stanford University, Pacific Grove, CA, USA: "How marine species affect ocean acidification: ecosystem engineering and mitigation on coral reefs"

Dr. Greg Rau (team lead), University of California at Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, CA, USA: "Mitigating Ocean Acidification Impacts Using Inexpensive Alkalinity Generation"

The Ocean Challenge winner will be announced later in the fall.