Research NewsREEF BIOLOGY

New Threat Seen From Carbon Dioxide

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Science  13 Feb 1998:
Vol. 279, Issue 5353, pp. 989
DOI: 10.1126/science.279.5353.989

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Summary

New findings, reported last month at this year's annual meeting of the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology, show that when the amount of carbonate dissolved in seawater drops, corals and other reef-building organisms have a harder time depositing their limestone skeletons. And increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide should have exactly that effect, because carbon dioxide dissolved in seawater boosts its acidity and decreases the amount of carbonate it can carry. If this effect is not counterbalanced by other effects, such as warmer ocean waters, the resulting decline in coral formation could make reefs more susceptible to the other pressures they face.