Does the ocean breathe?

Dr. Veronique Oldham

The oceans absorb nearly 1/3 of our carbon emissions; they are literally the world's lungs. How does the sea 'breathe', and why does it do it?

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If oceans are the lungs of the earth, how do we keep them breathing amid unprecedented levels of carbon emission?

Our oceans absorb nearly a third of the world’s carbon emissions, a ‘breathing’ process that produces much of the oxygen we take in on a daily basis. As carbon levels increase so too do the acidity levels of our oceans, a process known as Ocean Acidification and one that damages our marine life. 

In this Garden talk, Dr. Veronique Oldham takes us on a deep dive into the inner workings of our oceans, revealing the fascinating story of how some people dumped iron in the ocean to encourage the growth of carbon-munching marine phytoplankton - and ended up with nothing more than dead zones full of algae.

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Talk outline


50 minutes

What to expect

30 minute talk

20 minute Member Q&A

Dr. Veronique Oldham

Veronique is an assistant professor at the University of Rhode Island's Graduate School of Oceanography. She examines metal cycling in the coastal ocean, deep sea methane seeps, and in Antarctica.

Thank you notes from Garden members

Amazing Oceans Collection

Covering almost three-quarters of the Earth, our amazing oceans are vast, beautiful, scary and relatively unexplored. This collection brings to the surface fascinating insights and stories across ocean science, conservation and culture.