Snorkel teams can assess climate impact on corals

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Teams of snorkel-wearing scientists could be warriors against the ravages of climate change on coral reefs, the International Union for Conservation of Nature reported on Wednesday.

Small teams of observers, wearing snorkels, swim fins and masks and carrying underwater note paper or slates and measuring tape, could make rapid assessments of how coral formations are faring as the world’s oceans get warmer, the group said at a briefing.

Warmer waters can contribute to the bleaching of coral reefs, a process in which microscopic plants that live on and nourish the coral are lost; without these plants, coral can die in a matter of weeks.

Coral reefs are also under threat from ocean acidification as a result of long-term emissions of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide.



Oceans have absorbed some 525 billion tons of this gas over the last 200 years, about a third of all the carbon dioxide humans have generated; when carbon dioxide combines with sea water, it forms the corrosive carbonic acid.

Deborah Zabarenko, REUTERS, 20 May 2009. Full article.

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