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Declining Coral Calcification on the Great Barrier Reef


Great Barrier Reef satellite image, NASA/GSFC/LaRC/JPL, MISR Team.

Declining Coral Calcification on the Great Barrier Reef

Science
Vol. 323, No. 5910, pp. 116-119, 2 January 2009.
doi: 10.1126/science.1165283

Glenn De'ath, Janice M. Lough, Katharina E. Fabricius
Australian Institute of Marine Science
Townsville, Queensland 4810, Australia






Great Barrier Reef satellite image, NASA/GSFC/LaRC/JPL, MISR Team
ABSTRACT:
Reef-building corals are under increasing physiological stress from a changing climate and ocean absorption of increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide. We investigated 328 colonies of massive Porites corals from 69 reefs of the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) in Australia. Their skeletal records show that throughout the GBR, calcification has declined by 14.2% since 1990, predominantly because extension (linear growth) has declined by 13.3%. The data suggest that such a severe and sudden decline in calcification is unprecedented in at least the past 400 years. Calcification increases linearly with increasing large-scale sea surface temperature but responds nonlinearly to annual temperature anomalies. The causes of the decline remain unknown; however, this study suggests that increasing temperature stress and a declining saturation state of seawater aragonite may be diminishing the ability of GBR corals to deposit calcium carbonate.
Download data from the WDC Paleo archive:
Great Barrier Reef data download page

To read or view the full study, please visit the Science website.
It was published in Science, Vol. 323, No. 5910, pp. 116-119, 2 January 2009.
doi: 10.1126/science.1165283
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