This article covers how a team of scientists were able to do the first ever experiment to manipulate the seawater chemistry in a coral reef in order to discover how excess of carbon dioxide caused by humans is affecting coral reefs. It also talks about how most of the carbon dioxide that is present in the atmosphere is being absorbed by the oceans, and reacts with the seawater to form an acid that is destroying coral reefs, shellfish, and other marine life.
Coral reefs are particularly threatened by the acid that is produced because reefs are formed by the accretion of calcium carbonate, which becomes very difficult as the acid concentrations increase and the water’s pH decreases.
Recent studies have also found that rates of reef calcification were 40 % lower in 2008 and 2009. In response to these findings, they manipulated the alkalinity of seawater In Australia’s Great Barrier Reef and brought the ocean’s pH closer to what it was during the pre-industrial period based on the carbon dioxide that was present during that time. They found that the calcification rates under this manipulation was much higher than today.
One of the scientists even states, “Our work provides the first strong evidence from experiments on a natural ecosystem that ocean acidification is already slowing coral reef growth.Ocean acidification is already taking its toll on coral reef communities. This is no longer a fear for the future; it is the reality of today.”
Lastly, they state that they believe the only real way to protect these coral reefs is to lower our carbon emissions. They also state that they believe that if we do not take action on this issue promptly, the coral reefs and everything that depends on them will not be able to survive into the next century.