Rising CO2 means faster ocean acidification

Australian marine scientists claim rising carbon dioxide levels in the world’s ocean could deal a “disastrous blow” to coral reefs, which are already subject to bleaching and destruction of their ecosystem.

New research from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies and the University of Queensland, to be published in PNAS this week, suggests acidification of the oceans due to CO2 emissions will worsen bleaching and the death of reef-building organisms. Previous research into the health of coral reefs underestimated the impact of CO2 emissions, the scientists claim.

Said research leader, Dr Ken Anthony: “Every time you start your car or turn on the lights, half the CO2 you emit ends up in the oceans, turning them just a tiny bit more acidic, as well as causing the climate to warm. What is new is an understanding of how these two effects interact to affect the corals and reef building algae.”

More information available here.

Photos of reef bleaching from the ARC available here.

To talk to New Zealand marine experts on the impact of climate change on coral reefs, contact the Science Media Centre on 04 499 5476 or smc@sciencemediacentre.co.nz