According to the latest news reports, ocean acidification affects coral reef growth. A group of scientists from Carnegie Institution of Science revealed ocean acidification increased due to carbon dioxide emissions. This process had a negative impact on coral reefs, declining their growth.
It is believed oceans swallow almost 40 percent of the carbon in the atmosphere. When combined with water, carbon becomes toxic, producing a harmful acid. This way the entire aquatic life is threatened, coral reefs included. In order to analyze the effects of carbon emissions, researchers conducted tests with seawater chemistry. This was the first time seawater chemistry was manipulated in a natural coral-reef system.
The research team explained they managed to manipulate the seawater chemistry by adding 15, 000 litres of seawater into a large tank. They drained the reef’s water and measured the gap between pre-industrial conditions and present-day water characteristics.
To be able to study the effects of ocean acidification, the experts raised the water’s pH from One Tree Island by combining it with sodium hydroxide. This process made the water’s conditions to be similar to those from pre-industrial period. In the pre-industrial period acid and carbon emissions levels were considerably lower than nowadays.
The results suggested the coral reef grew 7 percent higher in alkaline water in contrast to the one in the acidic water. According to researchers, the study clearly shows that ocean acidification affects coral reef growth. Also, they explained this is a present threat which must be dealt with.
Some researchers claimed that increasing the alkalinity of ocean water around coral reefs using geoengineering will save some marine ecosystems. Since the beginning of industrial revolution in the 1800s, the oceans’ acidity has increased by approximately 30 percent. If experts will manage to raise the alkalinity of the oceans with coral reefs the carbon dioxide’s effects could be reversed.
However, even though this study proved to be successful, scientists will face many difficulties in implementing such a measure in a natural ecosystem. Previous studies pointed out massive declines in coral reefs over the past decades. Results from another research team suggested that calcification levels were 40 percent lower in 2008 and 2009 than 1975 and 1976.
However, scientists claim is very difficult to determine the real cause of the reef problem. Acidification is, indeed, affecting the marine life but so does warming, pollution and overfishing. For the moment, scientists say carbon dioxide emission levels should be considerably cut down in order to protect the coral reefs.
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