X Prize's New $2M Task: Gauge Ocean Acidity
Latest X Prize contest could help save coral reefs
By Arden Dier, Newser Staff
Posted Sep 10, 2013 9:09 AM CDT
A healthy coral grows in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, Oct. 18, 2011.   (AP Photo/Puntacana Ecological Foundation, Victor Manuel Galvan)

(Newser) – The latest X Prize is a big one with a pretty payout. The task? Find out how to measure ocean acidification and you could get close to $2 million for your trouble. You'll also have the added ego boost of helping the world better understand the process behind decaying coral reefs and struggling oyster populations, Christian Science Monitor reports. "Our oceans are currently in the midst of a silent crisis," the X Prize Foundation said. "To fully understand and adapt to the threat of ocean acidification, better pH sensing systems to monitor and collect ocean pH data are urgently needed."

Thanks to the 530 billion tons of CO2 the oceans have absorbed over the last 250 years, they've seen a 30% spike in acidity—and it's only getting worse. By 2050, the Southern Ocean by Antarctica will likely become corrosive, CSM reports. Officially called the Wendy Schmidt Ocean Health X Prize—a collaborative effort with the philanthropist wife of Google's Eric Schmidt—the award features two $1 million purses, one each for accuracy and affordability, but the winning team could take home both. The contest will start early next year and go until May 2015, when four finalists will begin ocean trials, USA Today reports.

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BrushMan
Sep 10, 2013 12:15 PM CDT
But why did the CO2 level in the atmosphere begin to rise at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution? Did coal burning cause volcanism to increase?