Unique underwater lab to study endangered coral reefs

In what has been called the “first investigation of its type,” a research team led by David Kline, University of Queensland’s Global Change Institute, is set to begin exploring the effects of ocean acidification on the corals and creatures of the Great Barrier Reef. The scientists are in the last stages of preparing their “in situunderwater laboratory for the Free Ocean Carbon Enrichment (FOCE) project – a “carbon dioxide enrichment experiment” that has aroused a great deal of interest around the world.

Gaining an understanding of ocean acidification has become one of the most urgent issues on the climate change agenda. It is widely believed that for the past two hundred years the ocean has absorbed excess atmospheric carbon dioxide created by humans, buffering the planet from a dramatic increase in atmospheric levels. As carbon dioxide dissolves in naturally alkaline seawater however, a weak carbonic acid is formed, changing the chemistry of the ocean water. Scientists want to know what that more acidic environment will mean for the zooplankton on which the marine food chain depends, and they want to understand the ecological and physiological consequences for coral reefs.

Maggie Romuld, INDYPOSTED, 23 May 2010. Full article.

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