Ocean acidification has become one of the biggest problems for coral reefs all over the world. It looks like climate change does have a pretty significant impact over how they develop and grow, which is not to say that pollution and oil spills do not have just as much of a negative effect.
What have researchers uncovered about coral reefs?
Kan Caldeira and Rebecca Albright are the co-authors of this research paper. They, along with their research team, performed an experiment where they would intentionally spill carbon dioxide into the ocean in order to see what would happen to the coral reefs and what would happen to the marine life that thrives in reefs.
What did they do?
In this study they added antacid to the seawater in order to make it more alkaline. They saw that if the water was more alkaline the reefs had an easier time working to build more coral. In waters that were more acidic than alkaline this type of improvement was not seen at all.
How does this all tie in with climate change?
Gas, coal and even oil are all part of the toxic substances that get released into the sea on a daily basis. It is well known that these substances contribute to climate change. Moreover, atmospheric carbon is even more dangerous since it gets absorbed by the sea at it can stay there for a very long period of time, up to millennia.
Albright said that these carbon emissions make the water turn more acidic which would then severely damage the formation of corals. In some of of Albright’s and her colleague’s other papers they also explore the damage that can be seen on an individual level, going from organism to organism, rather than this very broad view over the matter.