The $2 million Wendy Schmidt Ocean Health XPRIZE has been anounced. It aims to spur global innovators to develop accurate and affordable ocean pH sensors that will ultimately transform our understanding of ocean acidification, one of the gravest problems associated with the rise in atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2).
“Just as we have sensors to monitor our body’s vital signs, we need a device to help determine the acidity of our oceans before we can determine the best solution to improve its health,” said Paul Bunje, Senior Director of Oceans, XPRIZE. “To accomplish this, we hope to incent innovators around the world, across disciplines, to compete for this prize not only for the ecological benefits, but for the market potential worth far more than the prize purse itself.”
The oceans absorb about one quarter of the CO2 that humans release into the atmosphere, causing the chemistry of the water to change and the oceans to become more acidic. As a result of increased CO2 emissions, ocean acidity is now at unprecedented levels, which could have devastating global consequences.
With inadequate or unaffordable sensors currently available on the market, ocean acidification is only well documented in a few parts of the world, making it nearly impossible to monitor our most imperiled ecosystems. 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.
The Wendy Schmidt Ocean Health XPRIZE is a 22-month competition in which teams can compete for one or both of the two $1,000,000 purses — one for accuracy and one for affordability.