Coral Reefs Could Help Fight Ocean Acidification

December 9, 2013

According to a recent report in the journal Nature Climate Change, coral reefs have the ability to work against ocean acidification, giving the state of the world’s oceans new hope as scientists struggle to resolve growing issues associated with global climate change.

According to the report, based on a study conducted in Bermuda, “Concerns have been raised about how coral reefs will be affected by ocean acidification, but projections of future seawater CO2 chemistry have focused solely on changes in the pH and aragonite saturation state [Ωa] of open-ocean surface seawater conditions surrounding coral reefs, rather than the reef systems themselves.

“The seawater CO2 chemistry within heterogeneous reef systems can be significantly different from that of the open ocean depending on the residence time, community composition, and the main biogeochemical processes occurring on the reef; that is, net ecosystem production and net ecosystem calcification, which combine to modify seawater chemistry.

“On the basis of observations from the Bermuda coral reef, we show that a range of projected biogeochemical responses of coral reef communities to ocean acidification by the end of this century could partially offset changes in seawater pH and Ωa by an average of 12–24% and 15–31%, respectively.”

The report once again underscores the extreme importance of coral reefs to the stability of the world’s oceans, a fact that is likely to prompt continued action to preserve existing coral in the face of pollution and seawater acidification.

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