Can corals survive more acidic oceans?
Sydney: Corals may yet be able to survive the acidification of the world's oceans, escaping the effects of climatic devastation.
Researchers have identified a powerful internal mechanism that could enable some corals and their symbiotic algae to counter the adverse impact of a more acidic ocean.
As humans release ever-larger amounts of carbon dioxide (CO2) into the air, besides warming the planet, the gas is also turning the world's oceans more acidic, faster than those seen during past extinctions, the journal Nature Climate Change reports.
Scientists from Australia's ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies (CoECRS) and France's Laboratoire des Sciences du Climat et de l'Environnement, has shown that some marine organisms that form calcium carbonate skeletons have an in-built mechanism to cope with ocean acidification - which others appear to lack.
"The good news is that most corals appear to have this internal ability to buffer rising acidity of seawater and still form good, solid skeletons," says Malcolm McCulloch professor at CoECRS.
"Marine organisms that form calcium carbonate skeletons generally produce it in one of two forms, known as aragonite and calcite," adds McCulloch, according to a CoECRS statement
"Our research broadly suggests that those with skeletons made of aragonite have the coping mechanism - while those that follow the calcite pathway generally do less well under more acidic conditions," said McCulloch.