A new research, published in Nature and led by California Academy of Sciences' Rebecca Albright and Carnegie's Ken Caldeira showed that ocean acidification due to unchecked carbon dioxide emissions can can massively impede the coral reef growth before the end of the century. They performed their research work on the Australia's Great Barrier Reef.
In the research work, they made the seawater artificially acidic by allowing carbon dioxide to flow across a natural coral reef community. They increase the acidity of the seawater to show end of the century projections incase carbon dioxide from greenhouse emissions are not controlled. This was one of the first studies to demonstrate how ocean acidification can impact coral reef growth. In the same work, they also made the coral reef seawater alkaline by flowing an antacid across it. This showed that the ability of the reef to construct itself improved under the alkaline conditions. The skeletons of the reefs are made by accreting calcium carbonate by a process called calcification. Acidity in the coral reefs due to carbon dioxide emissions can make the calcification process more difficult. This hampers coral reef growth. There is also production of carbonic acid due to a chemical reaction between the seawater and soaked up carbon emissions. The acid is corrosive to reefs, shellfish and other marine life. The results of these studies will help in understanding the complete impact of acidification on the seawater and the coastal communities around.
By: Neha Maheshwari