Corals gassed

 
Published: Tuesday 31 March 1998

Turning pale and dead (Credit: Anil Agarwal / CSE)global emissions of greenhouse gases may pose serious threats to coral reefs the worldover, warn scientists. Increasing levels of carbon dioxide (co2) are reducing the ability of coral animals to make the limestone skeletons that build reefs. This warning has come in the wake of a report from Australia's Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority which has reported that bleaching is killing reefs along 1,000 kilometres of the Queensland coast.

Same feelings were expressed during an international meeting of marine experts in Boston that included scientists from the Australian Institute of Marine Science in Townsville, the Australian Federal Science Agency and the Australian National University. Terry Done, principal research scientist at Australian Institute of Marine Science, says that rising atmospheric co2 concentrations increase the acidity of surface ocean water.

"In the long term, the high levels of co2 may interfere with skeleton growth by reef builders and pose a serious threat to the sustainability of reefs world-wide," he says.

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