I find ocean acidification a particularly terrifying oceanic consequence of climate change due to its impact on coral. When most people think of the effect of excessive anthropogenic carbon emissions, they ignore the oceans and think only of the atmosphere. In reality, these emissions have a huge impact on the oceans because they naturally absorb atmospheric CO2 as a part of the carbon cycle. However, with such high amounts of CO2, their natural CO2 absorption is leading to ocean acidification which is in turn contrinbuting to decimation of coral as the acidic waters threaten to dissolve coral and prevent them from obtaining the necessary minerals for their structure. This scares me because coral reefs are the source of the majority of marine life and harm to them undoubtedly affects the entire marine ecosystem and, consequently, affects us, especially in communities dependent upon coral for income, either in tourism or in fishing. As the National Geographic article from this past Earth Day linked below reports, “A recent model published in Nature Climate Change predicts that 70 percent of corals are expected to undergo long-term degradation by 2030.” The effects of such damage to our coral reefs is unthinkable. The article does offer some hope though in coral conservation efforts targeting specific highly biodiverse yet low stress coral environments that have a chance of being protected and in training of local fishing communities to have habits that encourage coral conservation.
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Corals commit suicide…Australian scientists claim to have unravelled the mystery behind the mass death of corals worldwide as the Earth’s climate warms, upon sea water warming, corals send a signal to their infected cells to commit “suicide”, allowing the safe cells to recover quickly.
Dr.Tracy Ainsworth and a team from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies says that coral bleaching, one of the most devastating events affecting coral reefs around the planet, is triggered by rising water temperatures.
Dr. Ainsworth discusses her reasearch on corals below.