Coral reefs are extremely fragile and sensitive to their surroundings and unfortunately, they’re wasting away faster than scientists predicted.
A study published today by the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science has found that the only barrier reef in the continental U.S. is in danger due to ocean acidification.
“The reefs are beginning to dissolve away,” senior author of the study Chris Langdon said in a press statement. “We don’t have as much time as we previously thought.”
The coral reefs he’s talking about are in the Florida Keys.
The reefs in the northern Florida Keys are dissolving away the fastest because the limestone structure that forms the backbone of the reef is dissolving quicker than it can be reproduced.
“The longterm impacts of this are that each year, the reefs are going to lose some of their structure,” Langdon said.
The coral reef in the Florida Keys has changed dramatically in the last 30 years. Photo: Courtesy of University of MiamiMore carbon dioxide is being absorbed into the ocean, changing the acidity of the ocean and shortening the coral’s growth period.
The coral reefs have an immense environmental impact on the surrounding fish population, which means if the reefs are unhealthy, the fish population will suffer.
Langdon said it’s more important than ever to curb carbon dioxide.
“This is one more reason why we need to get serious about reducing carbon dioxide emission sooner rather than later,” said Langdon.
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