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Why have scientists given coral reefs 'heartburn'?

The growth of coral reefs will be severely stunted by acidification before the end of the century if atmospheric carbon dioxide emissions are not reduced, according to the latest findings from an international team of scientists on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. Their experiment was the first in which carbon dioxide was deliberately added to seawater
Published: April 16, 2018 - 20:30
Updated: July 22, 2023 - 16:44
Why have scientists given coral reefs ‘heartburn’?

The growth of coral reefs will be severely stunted by acidification before the end of the century if atmospheric carbon dioxide emissions are not reduced, according to the latest findings from an international team of scientists on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef.

Their experiment was the first in which carbon dioxide was deliberately added to seawater to acidify it before it was allowed to flow through a natural coral reef. Water acidification levels were applied to reflect CO2 projections by the end of the century, and the results are expected to confirm for the first time the negative effects of acidity on entire reef ecosystems, not just individual organisms or species.

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US scientists Rebecca Albright of the California Academy of Sciences and Ken Caldeira of the Carnegie Institution for Science in Washington led the study, published in Nature. Two years ago, they conducted another experiment in which they made seawater flowing over a coral reef more alkaline – to reflect conditions 100 years ago.

The results showed that the corals responded positively to the ‘acid neutraliser’ treatment. In a recent study carried out on a part of the Great Reef called One Tree Island, the team successfully treated the reef with ‘heartburn’. Carbon dioxide is emitted into the atmosphere when coal, oil or gas is burned, and is absorbed into seawater, with which it reacts to produce carbonic acid. This suppresses the natural calcification process by which coral reefs grow.

[blockquote style=”2″]”Our findings provide strong evidence that carbon dioxide-induced ocean acidification will severely slow coral reef growth in the future unless we take rapid and rapid reductions in greenhouse gas emissions,” said Albright. “Coral reefs provide livelihoods for surrounding communities that rely on fishing and tourism, but to me, a reef is a beautiful and diverse specimen of life that we are harming by emitting carbon dioxide into the atmosphere,” added Caldeira.”[/blockquote]

Source: divernet.com

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About author

Tomasz Andrukajtis
Editor-in-chief of the DIVERS24 portal and magazine. Responsible for obtaining, translating and developing content. He also supervises all publications. Achived his first diving certification – P1 CMAS, in 2000. Has a degree in journalism and social communication. In the diving industry since 2008.
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