Tropical cyclone-induced coastal acidification in Galveston Bay, Texas

Intense rainfall from tropical cyclones has the potential to induce coastal acidification, which will become more common and severe as climate change continues. We collected carbonate chemistry samples from Galveston Bay, Texas before and after Hurricane Harvey in 2017 and 2018. Here, we show ecosystem level acidification and calcium carbonate undersaturation in Galveston Bay following the storm. This acidification event, driven by extreme rainfall from Harvey, persisted for over 3 weeks because of prolonged flood mitigation reservoir releases that continued for over a month after the storm. In addition, the large volume of stormwater led to high oyster mortality rates in Galveston Bay and acidification may have impeded recovery of these vital reefs. It is also likely that undersaturation has occurred outside of our study, unrecorded, following other high-rainfall storms. The projected increase in tropical cyclone rainfall under climate change may thus represent a significant threat to coastal calcifying ecosystems.

Hicks T. L., Shamberger K. E. F., Fitzsimmons J. N., Jensen C. C. & DiMarco S. F., 2022. Tropical cyclone-induced coastal acidification in Galveston Bay, Texas. Communications Earth & Environment 3: 297. doi: 10.1038/s43247-022-00608-1. Article.

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