Institute of Advanced Studies

A public lecture by Susana Agustí


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Impacts of enhanced UV-B radiation on the ocean ecosystems

A public lecture by Susana Agustí, Professorial Fellow, UWA Oceans Institute, and Research Professor, Spanish National Research Council (CSIC), Mediterranean Institute for Advanced Studies (IMEDEA)

Susana Agust�Ultraviolet B (UVB) radiation is a band of high energy forming part of the solar spectrum that reaches the earth surface after being filtered out by the stratospheric ozone layer (SOL).  In the 80´s, the role of atmosphere pollution (by CFC’S and other compounds emitted that destroy ozone) in the reduction of the SOL became apparent. Increasing UVB radiation as result of the erosion of the SOL has impacted a wide diversity of life forms, including humans, as levels of UVB radiation reaching the Earth surface may denaturalize many molecules including vital molecules such as DNA. These effects extend to marine life, as recent research demonstrates that UVB penetrates down to 60 meters in clear oceanic waters.  However, prior to the reduction of the SOL, studies on the sensitivity of marine organisms to UVB radiation were lacking, and, accordingly, the possible impacts were unknown. Progress in assessing the impacts of UVB radiation on marine life over the last three decades has now demonstrated that the erosion of the ozone layer had indeed impacted marine organisms and ecosystems in profound ways.

In this lecture Professor Agusti described the current state of the SOL and evidence for impacts of changes in SOL over geological time scales on marine life. She explained the range of strategies that marine organisms use to avoid, protect and repair UVB-induced damages, and how UVB impact different levels of organization (from molecules and cells, to populations and ecosystems). She concluded by demonstrating the differences in the sensitivity of marine organisms from the northern and southern organisms to UVB radiation.

Susana Agustí is a Professorial Fellow at The UWA Oceans Institute and School of Plant Biology, and a Research Professor with the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC) at the Mediterranean Institute for Advanced Studies (IMEDEA) in Mallorca, Spain.

Professor Agustí's key research themes include global change, biological oceanography, phytoplankton ecology, pelagic metabolism, polar ecosystems, optical properties and UV radiation, growth, and cell death and losses. She has published more than 100 peer-reviewed journal articles, co-authored eight books, and has been cited more than 2310 times.

This lecture was co-sponsored by the Institute of Advanced Studies and the UWA Oceans Institute.