Monday, April 2, 2012

Can corals cope with climate change?

Can corals cope with climate change or will they become extinct in years to come?

 The survival of corals is the key thing for many marine ecosystems because coral play vital role at the bottom of the marine food chain, meaning that their extinction would likely cause irreparable damage to many marine ecosystems and cause broad marine biodiversity loss.

 Climate change is not only making our oceans warmer, but more importantly far more acidic. The current levels of ocean acidification have instilled fear in scientific circles as there are many scientists who believe that corals won't be able to survive the expected increase of climate change impact in years to come.

The new study by Australian scientists that was recently published in journal Nature Climate Change thinks that corals might actually have what it takes to cope against climate change, with it being the powerful internal mechanism with the ability to tackle rising ocean acidity.

According to this study the most coral species, despite being built of calcium carbonate skeletons, have this protective in-built mechanism to cope with increased levels of ocean acidification. Many coral species seem to be equipped with so called "aragonite calcifiers", a some tipe of "molecular 'pumps' that enable them to regulate their internal acid balance, which buffers them from the external changes in seawater pH levels."

 Corals could still be in trouble, even despite these protective mechanisms, because for instance coralline algae - a symbiotic algae that holds coral reefs together, appears to be highly vulnerable to rising acidity of our oceans.

 Scientists say that the arrival of hot ocean water and loss of this symbiotic algae which is their main source of energy will still cause death of many coral species so business as usual scenario is definitely not the way to save corals from extinction.