Our Acid Oceans Will Vanished Coral Reef Sands Within Decades

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New Delhi:  Coral reefs could start to dissolve faster than their growth by year 2100 as human-influenced climate change drives ocean acidification, an Australian-led team of scientists said.

Carbon dioxide, the main man-made greenhouse gas, forms a weak acid in water and threatens to dissolve the reef sediments, made from broken down bits of corals and other carbonate organisms that accumulate over thousands of years, it said.

The sediments are 10 times more vulnerable to acidification than the tiny coral animals that also extract chemicals directly from the sea water to build stony skeletons that form reefs, the study said.Corals already face risks from ocean temperatures, pollution and overfishing.

“Coral reefs will transition to net dissolving before end of century,” the Australian-led team of scientists wrote in the US journal Science. “Net dissolving” means reefs would lose more material than they gain from the growth of corals.

Climate change alters ocean chemistry leading to ocean acidification:

Much of the carbon dioxide that enters the atmosphere dissolves into the ocean. In fact, the oceans have absorbed about 1/3 of the carbon dioxide produced from human activities since 1800 and about 1/2 of the carbon dioxide produced by burning fossil fuels (Sabine et al. 2004). As carbon dioxide in the ocean increases, ocean pH decreases or becomes more acidic. This is called ocean acidification.

With ocean acidification, corals cannot absorb the calcium carbonate they need to maintain their skeletons and the stony skeletons that support corals and reefs will dissolve.

Most studies show that acidification will be overwhelmingly bad for ocean life, also threatening creatures such as oysters, lobsters and crabs. Another study on Thursday, however, found that it might help the growth of some plants.

“An increase of carbon dioxide in the ocean theoretically could stimulate higher growth of kelp and seaweeds,” Kasper Hancke, a biologist at the Norwegian Institute for Water Research, wrote in a statement.

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                Already, ocean acidification has lowered the pH of the ocean by about 0.11 units. Moving the ocean's pH from 8.179 to a current pH of 8.069, which means the ocean is about 30% more acidic now than it was in 1751.

If we continue to produce carbon dioxide at the current rate, future atmospheric carbon dioxide will be high enough to lower ocean surface pH to 7.8 by the year 2100.

Therefore, the scientists predicts that if nothing is done to reduce carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere, ocean acidification will increase and more and more corals will be damaged or destroyed and soon they all even vanished.

If coral reefs are lost, vital habitat will be lost too. The future health of coral reefs and many marine organisms depends on our ability to reduce our carbon dioxide emissions on a global scale.

 References:

https://www.hindustantimes.com

http://www.teachoceanscience.net

www.theconversation.com

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