via Australian Institute of Marine Science

AUS - The Future Is Now: Long-Term Research Shows Ocean Acidification Ramping up on the Great Barrier Reef

Ocean acidification is no longer a somber forecast for the Great Barrier Reef but a present-day reality, a new study reveals.

The study, published in Scientific Reports, shows carbon dioxide (CO2) and ocean acidification are rapidly increasing on the Reef. Seawater CO2 has risen 6 percent over the past 10 years and matches the rate of CO2 increases in the atmosphere, confirming the influence of atmospheric CO2 on seawater CO2 levels.

"People talk about ocean acidification in terms of 50 years' time, but for the first time our study shows how fast ocean acidification is already happening on the Reef," said Dr. Katharina Fabricius, lead author and Senior Principal Research Scientist at the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS).

The research, a collaboration between AIMS and CSIRO, drew on over a decade of observations collected as part of Australia's Integrated Marine Observing System (IMOS) to conclude that the Reef's rich carbonate seafloor is not buffering against ocean acidification as previously thought.

"Our research shows that acidification is rapidly changing the conditions that support the growth of coral on the Reef. It's never been more important to address ocean acidification in plans to manage the Reef," said Dr. Bronte Tilbrook, a Senior Principal Research Scientist at CSIRO who leads IMOS' observational projects for CO2 and ocean acidification.

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Read also Progressive seawater acidification on the Great Barrier Reef continental shelf, Katharina E. Fabricius et al., Oct. 27, 2020