Our acid oceans will dissolve coral reef sands within decades

Carbonate sands on coral reefs will start dissolving within about 30 years, on average, as oceans become more acidic, new research published today in Science shows. Carbonate sands, which accumulate over thousands of years from the breakdown of coral and other reef organisms, are the building material for the frameworks of coral reefs and shallow reef environments like lagoons, reef flats and coral sand cays. But these sands are sensitive to the chemical make-up of sea water. As oceans absorb carbon dioxide, they acidify – and at a certain point, carbonate sands simply start to dissolve. The world’s oceans have absorbed around one-third of human-emitted carbon dioxide . Carbonate sand is vulnerable For a coral reef to grow or be maintained, the rate of carbonate production (plus any external sediment supply) must be greater than the loss through physical, chemical and biological erosion, transport and dissolution. It is well known...
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