Study finds ocean acidification threatens coral reef systems

coral reef
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

A new study led by The University of Western Australia has found the future of the world's coral reefs is under threat from ocean acidification with many corals unable to adapt to the conditions.

The study, published today in Nature Climate Change, determined the capacity of coral reefs to acclimatise to by investigating the chemistry in the corals' calcifying fluid.

Co-author Professor Malcolm McCulloch, ARC Laureate Fellow from UWA's Oceans, said the researchers examined four of coral and two types of calcifying algae in a year-long test.

"We found that corals and weren't able to acclimatise to ocean acidification," Professor McCulloch said.

"The effects of ocean acidification on the calcifying fluid were rapid and persisted after one year in the experimental conditions.

"Two coral species that were resistant to ocean acidification were resistant from the start while the two sensitive ones were affected from the start and were not able to acclimatise.

"The two species resistant to ocean acidification used different mechanisms to alleviate the effects of ocean acidification."

Lead author Dr. Steeve Comeau, from the Sorbonne Université – CNRS Laboratoire d"Océanographie de Villefranche sur Mer in France, said the results validated previous research that found were under threat from ocean acidification.

"The results also confirm that acidification could have repercussions on the competition between species which could in turn affect the ecological function of reefs," Dr. Comeau said.

Explore further

Internal control helps corals resist acidification

More information: S. Comeau et al. Resistance to ocean acidification in coral reef taxa is not gained by acclimatization. Nature Climate Change,
Journal information: Nature Climate Change

Citation: Study finds ocean acidification threatens coral reef systems (2019, May 28) retrieved 17 October 2019 from
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May 28, 2019
How? Carbonic acid/bicarbonate acts as a buffer.

May 28, 2019
Shootist -> How does adding acid to the ocean make it more acid?

What a moron.

May 29, 2019
We found that corals and coralline algae weren't able to acclimatise to ocean acidification

No they didn't. They found that by rapidly, drastically and unnaturally increasing CO₂ in a salt water tank the coral didn't acclimate or adapt. Big surprise. There is no excuse for this kind of experimental malfeasance.

It should be obvious to everyone (apparently not the researchers) that this doesn't mimic what happens in the oceans. Any owner of a salt water aquarium could tell you that bad things happen when you rapidly change the chemistry in the tank, which isn't what happens in the oceans. Coral handles rather large seasonal pH fluctuations in the ocean just fine. And over many generations, they have the capacity to adapt to changes as most living organisms do.

The coral alarmists seem to forget, or don't know, that coral has been around for 500 million years or so and managed to survive atmospheric CO₂ levels 5 times higher than today.

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