Development of ocean acidification flow-thru experimental raceway units (OAFTERU)

Ocean acidification, whether from anthropogenically-induced CO2 production or natural causes, is an ecological threat to marine organisms. In order to calculate potential impacts of ocean acidification upon ecologically keystone species such as coral, it is essential to employ forecasted pH levels in manipulative experiments to determine physiological indices of such species. The Mote Marine Tropical Research Laboratory (Mote TRL) in Summerland Key, Florida has an established deep well from which its supply of seawater is obtained. This unique source of seawater is 80 feet deep, “fossil” marine water that has a pH that is relatively acidic (pH around 7.6, pCO2 ranging from 200 to 2000 μatm). Manipulation of this water by aeration adjusts the pH to varying levels between 7.6 and present day values (>8.0 8.4). We are currently testing methods for utilizing this unique seawater system as the foundation for manipulative ocean acidification studies with Florida Keys corals and other reef ecosystem species in both flow-through and large mesocosm-based designs. Advance knowledge of potential climate-driven trends in coral growth and health will permit improved modeling for prediction and more effectively guide policy decisions for how financial resources should be directed to protection and restoration of coral reef ecosystems. Developing such long term research infrastructure at the existing Mote TRL facility will provide an optimum global research center for examining and modeling effects of ocean acidification on corals as well as other important estuarine and marine species.

Hall E. R., Vaughan D. & Crosby M. P., 2012. Development of ocean acidification flow-thru experimental raceway units (OAFTERU). Proceedings of the 12th International Coral Reef Symposium, Cairns, Australia, 9-13 July 2012. 8D Effects of ocean acidification. 5 pp. Article.

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