Croucher Summer Courses

Every summer the Croucher Foundation funds short courses that aim to educate and inspire postgraduate students and early career researchers from Hong Kong an...

Climate change and marine ecosystems

This five-day summer course aims to provide students with a systematic and comprehensive understanding of the impact of global climate change and the rapid increase in atmospheric CO2 on ocean ecosystems, with a particular focus on the three major impacts of ocean warming, ocean acidification and hypoxia.

Oceans play a vital role in the global carbon cycle by acting as a sink for the increase in atmospheric CO2 from fossil fuel burning and other processes. This adsorption of CO2 by the ocean reduces the level of atmospheric CO2 and some of this additional CO2 in the ocean can be taken up by phytoplankton, converted to phytoplankton biomass, and subsequently a small fraction of the fixed organic carbon can be transported and buried in the interior of the deep ocean via a process known as the ‘biological pump’.

The increase in atmospheric CO2 also causes in an increase in atmospheric temperature  (i.e. global warming) and the surface layer of the ocean due to the well known ‘greenhouse effect’.The warmer surface layer increases stratification which reduces the mixing of nutrients up into the surface and decreases the downward transport of oxygen to deeper water which enhances the occurrence of hypoxic deep water. The increase in CO2 in the surface layers also causes a decrease in pH and this process is termed ocean acidification. It has a profound effect on marine organisms and the integrity and function of marine ecosystems. Ocean acidification is a threat to corals, bivalves, etc. and it reduces calcification of calcifying phytoplankton and coralline algae.

In 2013, the first summer course in this series focused on the microbial food web dynamics under changing climates. This course will focus on the impact of global climate change, including warming, ocean acidification and subsurface oxygen depletion, on marine ecosystems, particularly microbial food web dynamics. Participants can expect daily lectures in the mornings and evenings, supplemented by workshops, tutorials, poster sessions, and demonstrations in the afternoon. With the small class size, special emphasis will be put on student-faculty interactions.

The course is limited to a maximum of 30 post-graduate or early career participants and will be conducted in English.

Apply online: Closing date for applications is 5:00 PM (Hong Kong time) on 31 May, 2015

For more details for the registration, please visit

Logo Hkust A Croucher Summer Course in partnership with the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.