Academic journal article Science and Children

Coral Reefs at Risk

Academic journal article Science and Children

Coral Reefs at Risk

Article excerpt

Carbon emissions from human activities are not just heating the globe, they are changing the ocean's chemistry. This could soon be fatal to coral reefs, which are havens for marine biodiversity and underpin the economies of many coastal communities.

Scientists from the Carnegie Institution's Department of Global Ecology have calculated that if current carbon dioxide emission trends continue, by mid-century, 98% of present-day reef habitats will be bathed in water too acidic for reef growth. The work is based on computer simulations of ocean chemistry under levels of atmospheric C[O.sub.2] ranging from 280 parts per million (pre-industrial levels) to 5,000 ppm. Present levels are 380 ppm and rapidly rising due to accelerating emissions from human activities, primarily the burning of fossil fuels. The findings appear in the journal Science.

"About a third of the carbon dioxide put into the atmosphere is absorbed by the oceans," explains chemical oceanographer Ken Caldeira, "which helps slow greenhouse warming but is a major pollutant of the oceans." The absorbed C[O.sub.2] produces carbonic acid, the same acid that gives soft drinks their fizz, making certain minerals called carbonate minerals dissolve more readily in seawater. This is especially true for aragonite, the mineral used by corals and many other marine organisms to grow their skeletons. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.