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Immediate action needed to save corals from climate change
Date:12/13/2007

(December 13, 2007) The journal Science has published a paper today that is the most comprehensive review to date of the effects rising ocean temperatures are having on the worlds coral reefs. The Carbon Crisis: Coral Reefs under Rapid Climate Change and Ocean Acidification, co-authored by seventeen marine scientists from seven different countries, reveals that most coral reefs will not survive the drastic increases in global temperatures and atmospheric CO2 unless governments act immediately to combat current trends.

The paper, the cover story for this weeks issue of Science, paints a bleak picture of a future without all but the most resilient coral species if atmospheric CO2 levels continue on their current trajectory. Marine biodiversity, tourism and fishing industries and the food security of millions are at risk, the paper warns. Coral reef fisheries in Asia currently provide protein for one billion people and the total net economic value of services provided by corals is estimated to be $30 billion.

Dr. Bob Steneck, of the University of Maine and co-author of the paper, said the time was right for international leaders to commit to meaningful action to save the worlds coral reefs: The science speaks for itself. We have created conditions on Earth unlike anything most species alive today have experienced in their evolutionary history. Corals are feeling the effects of our actions and it is now or never if we want to safeguard these marine creatures and the livelihoods that depend on them.

Scientists have long thought that the effects of climate change and the resulting acidification of the oceans spells trouble for reefs. Coral skeletons are made of calcium, and reef development requires plenty of carbonate ions to build these skeletons, a process called calcification. When carbon dioxide is absorbed in the ocean, the pH level drops, along with the amount of carbonate ions, slowing the growth of coral reefs. Atmosph
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Contact: Julia Roberson
jroberson@seaweb.org
01-144-770-454-8392
SeaWeb
Source:Eurekalert

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