New Study Details Ocean Acidification in the Caribbean

A new study, which confirms significant ocean acidification across much of the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico, reports strong natural variations in ocean chemistry in some parts of the Caribbean that could affect the way reefs respond to future ocean acidification. Such short-term variability has often been underappreciated and may prove an important consideration when predicting the long-term impacts of ocean acidification to coral reefs.

Conducted by scientists from NOAA and the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, the study was published in the Oct. 31, 2008 issue of the Journal of Geophysical Research – Oceans.

Previous NOAA studies have shown that a quarter of the carbon dioxide that humans place in the atmosphere each year ends up being dissolved into the ocean. The result is the ocean becomes more acidic, making it harder for corals, clams, oysters, and other marine life to build their skeletons or shells. A number of recent studies demonstrate that ocean acidification is likely to harm coral reefs by slowing coral growth and making reefs more vulnerable to erosion and storms.

NOAA News, 21 November 2008. Article.

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