Major changes needed for coral reef survival

Jun 28, 2013
Major changes needed for coral reef survival
This picture of coral reef in Florida taken by Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary staff is provided courtesy of NOAA. Research from Carnegie's Ken Caldeira and Katharine Ricke says that if deep cuts in emissions aren't made, it is unlikely that there will be any water left in the ocean that's hospitable to coral growth by the end of the century. Credit: Image courtesy of NOAA.

To prevent coral reefs around the world from dying off, deep cuts in carbon dioxide emissions are required, says a new study from Carnegie's Katharine Ricke and Ken Caldeira. They find that all existing coral reefs will be engulfed in inhospitable ocean chemistry conditions by the end of the century if civilization continues along its current emissions trajectory. Their work will be published July 3 by Environmental Research Letters.

Coral reefs are havens for and underpin the economies of many coastal communities. But they are very sensitive to changes in resulting from , as well as to , warming waters, overdevelopment, and overfishing.

Ricke and Caldeira, along with colleagues from Institut Pierre Simon Laplace and Stanford University, focused on the acidification of open ocean water surrounding coral reefs and how it affects a reef's ability to survive.

Coral reefs use a mineral called aragonite to make their skeletons. It is a naturally occurring form of calcium carbonate, CaCO3. When carbon dioxide, CO2, from the atmosphere is absorbed by the ocean, it forms carbonic acid (the same thing that makes soda fizz), making the ocean more acidic and decreasing the ocean's pH. This increase in acidity makes it more difficult for many to grow their shells and skeletons, and threatens coral reefs the world over.

Using results from simulations conducted using an ensemble of sophisticated models, Ricke, Caldeira, and their co-authors calculated ocean chemical conditions that would occur under different future scenarios and determined whether these chemical conditions could sustain coral reef growth.

Ricke said: "Our results show that if we continue on our current emissions path, by the end of the century there will be no water left in the ocean with the chemical properties that have supported coral reef growth in the past. We can't say with 100% certainty that all shallow-water coral reefs will die, but it is a pretty good bet."

Deep cuts in emissions are necessary in order to save even a fraction of existing reefs, according to the team's results. Chemical conditions that can support coral reef growth can be sustained only with very aggressive cuts in .

"To save coral reefs, we need to transform our energy system into one that does not use the atmosphere and oceans as waste dumps for carbon dioxide pollution. The decisions we make in the next years and decades are likely to determine whether or not survive the rest of this century," Caldeira said.

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User comments : 17

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d2xyz
5 / 5 (2) Jun 28, 2013
Nice picture of soft corals and sponges. Though one coral species that fixes Ca seems to have snuck in.
kevin_buckeye_3
2.9 / 5 (16) Jun 28, 2013
Just more facts for the deniers to spit at.
Kiwini
1.3 / 5 (13) Jun 28, 2013
Shootist
2.2 / 5 (20) Jun 28, 2013
As if coral reefs haven't survived since before the Permian.

It is almost a kind of grandiosity these announcements are couched in. Whatever mankind does to the planet it will never equal the End Permian and coral reefs survived the End Permian. (see the 500 km+ diameter Wilkes Land crater in bedmap2)
deepsand
2.8 / 5 (18) Jun 29, 2013
As if coral reefs haven't survived since before the Permian.

It is almost a kind of grandiosity these announcements are couched in. Whatever mankind does to the planet it will never equal the End Permian and coral reefs survived the End Permian. (see the 500 km+ diameter Wilkes Land crater in bedmap2)

Immaterial to present conditions and man's role in changing them.
NikFromNYC
1.5 / 5 (17) Jun 29, 2013
Simple science buffs with enough clarity of mind to think from the ground up and call BS on hype have become dehumanized others required to define a cult that oddly enough denies natural climate change itself while hurling the bizarre label of "denier" in an ongoing inquisition to what end I can't imagine in a world that includes China and India with billions instead of just millions of people. Since they are so terribly uncivil, skepticism can be a lazy hobby and yet still be highly effective, due to their spastic allergic response to even two minutes posts that suggest Google searches for facts indeed very inconvenient to tobacco farmer Gore's doomsday religion. They lied about polar bears and as their windmills chop wildlife to bits they lie about corals being ill adapted to the boringly low CO2 in our modern atmosphere, as in 1/10 of what corals enjoyed for most of their history.
NikFromNYC
1.7 / 5 (17) Jun 29, 2013
"Using results from simulations conducted using an ensemble of sophisticated models...."

To sophisticate: to make impure, adulterate.
runrig
4.1 / 5 (9) Jun 29, 2013
............... cult that oddly enough denies natural climate change itself while hurling the bizarre label of "denier" in an ongoing inquisition..............


Natural climate change is far from being denied - the natural factors are known - The Sun and the Earth's eccentric orbit around it. Albedo. GHG's, The latter HAVE been natural until the onset of the industrial era. We know the Sun has a small effect but it is cooling now. The orbit is still in a NH cooling phase but Low and Behold, CO2, a GHG is up by 40% - due to man.
Gore's doomsday religion.

Well, do you know? it just might be. But it might not. You want to wait for the certainty YOU require? May well be too late. Got a spare planet for your Grandkids?

They lied about polar bears and as their windmills chop wildlife to bits ...

What bollocks -
Oil doesn't "chop wildlife to bits"?
Err - The Gulf well disaster?
Exxon Valdez and any no. of other tanker spillages.

Record Polar (bear) ice min 2012
Neinsense99
3.2 / 5 (13) Jun 29, 2013
Simple science buffs with enough clarity of mind to think from the ground up and call BS on hype have become dehumanized others required to define a cult that oddly enough denies natural climate change itself while hurling the bizarre label of "denier" in an ongoing inquisition to what end I can't imagine in a world that includes China and India with billions instead of just millions of people. Since they are so terribly uncivil, skepticism can be a lazy hobby and yet still be highly effective, due to their spastic allergic response to even two minutes posts that suggest Google searches for facts indeed very inconvenient to tobacco farmer Gore's doomsday religion. They lied about polar bears and as their windmills chop wildlife to bits they lie about corals being ill adapted to the boringly low CO2 in our modern atmosphere, as in 1/10 of what corals enjoyed for most of their history.

When your claims are full of crap, play the victim card and fear monger. Nothing new.
antigoracle
1.3 / 5 (14) Jun 29, 2013
Just more facts for the deniers to spit at.

What facts and based on what?
How much man-made CO2 has been absorbed be the oceans?
How much has the acidity increased?
runrig
4.5 / 5 (8) Jun 29, 2013
...How much man-made CO2 has been absorbed be the oceans?
How much has the acidity increased


Top of Google page on pasting in your 1st question:
"On the pH scale, which runs from 0 to 14, solutions with low numbers are considered acidic and those with higher numbers are basic. Seven is neutral. Over the past 300 million years, ocean pH has been slightly basic, averaging about 8.2. Today, it is around 8.1, a drop of 0.1 pH units, representing a 25-percent increase in acidity over the past two centuries.

The oceans currently absorb about a third of human-created CO2 emissions, roughly 22 million tons a day. Projections based on these numbers show that by the end of this century, continued emissions could reduce ocean pH by another 0.5 units. Shell-forming animals including corals, oysters, shrimp, lobster, many planktonic organisms, and even some fish species could be gravely affected."
http://ocean.nati...ication/
Don_Norris
4.4 / 5 (7) Jun 30, 2013
Just more facts for the deniers to spit at.

What facts and based on what?
How much man-made CO2 has been absorbed be the oceans?
How much has the acidity increased?

Why ask when you could just do a quick search yourself?
deepsand
2.9 / 5 (15) Jun 30, 2013
Just more facts for the deniers to spit at.

What facts and based on what?
How much man-made CO2 has been absorbed be the oceans?
How much has the acidity increased?

Given that this has been explained ad nausem, it is clear that you are simply too deeply entrenched in the denialist cult for being able to grasp and accept reality.
deepsand
2.9 / 5 (15) Jun 30, 2013
Simple science buffs with enough clarity of mind to think from the ground up and call BS on hype have become dehumanized others required to define a cult that oddly enough denies natural climate change itself while hurling the bizarre label of "denier" in an ongoing inquisition to what end I can't imagine in a world that includes China and India with billions instead of just millions of people. Since they are so terribly uncivil, skepticism can be a lazy hobby and yet still be highly effective, due to their spastic allergic response to even two minutes posts that suggest Google searches for facts indeed very inconvenient to tobacco farmer Gore's doomsday religion. They lied about polar bears and as their windmills chop wildlife to bits they lie about corals being ill adapted to the boringly low CO2 in our modern atmosphere, as in 1/10 of what corals enjoyed for most of their history.

Did you make this BS up all on your own? Or, did your mommy help you with it?
runrig
4.5 / 5 (8) Jun 30, 2013
Just more facts for the deniers to spit at.

What facts and based on what?
How much man-made CO2 has been absorbed be the oceans?
How much has the acidity increased?

Why ask when you could just do a quick search yourself?


Because they don't want to know the answer. They've made up their minds. That is what Deniers do.
geokstr
1 / 5 (12) Jun 30, 2013
Did you make this BS up all on your own? Or, did your mommy help you with it?

Wow, deepsand, I am truly impressed. Good job. I can't remember how many years it's been since you've contributed so much intellectual heft to the discussion here.

Two whole, entire sentences full of personal insults. In a row, even. May be a personal best. Perhaps I'll contact Guiness.
deepsand
2.7 / 5 (12) Jun 30, 2013
Did you make this BS up all on your own? Or, did your mommy help you with it?

Wow, deepsand, I am truly impressed. Good job. I can't remember how many years it's been since you've contributed so much intellectual heft to the discussion here.

Two whole, entire sentences full of personal insults. In a row, even. May be a personal best. Perhaps I'll contact Guiness.

I am pleased that you appreciate my economy of words; it spares me the effort of repeating that which you do not wish to know.

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