Growth of western australian corals in the Anthropocene

Anthropogenic increases of atmospheric carbon dioxide lead to warmer sea surface temperatures and altered ocean chemistry. Experimental evidence suggests that coral calcification decreases as aragonite saturation drops but increases as temperatures rise toward thresholds optimal for coral growth. In situ studies have documented alarming recent declines in calcification rates on several tropical coral reef ecosystems. We show there is no widespread pattern of consistent decline in calcification rates of massive Porites during the 20th century on reefs spanning an 11° latitudinal range in the southeast Indian Ocean off Western Australia. Increasing calcification rates on the high-latitude reefs contrast with the downward trajectory reported for corals on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef and provide additional evidence that recent changes in coral calcification are responses to temperature rather than ocean acidification.

Cooper T. F., O’Leary R. A., & Lough J. M., 2012. Growth of Western Australian Corals in the Anthropocene. Science, 335(6068), 593–596. Article (subscription required).


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