The massive build-up of carbon dioxide has an enormous effect on the climate. Temperatures are rising, and that has made the oceans warmer and more acidic. Unfortunately, this is a huge reason for the degrading of the world's coral reefs.
New research by CSIRO Oceans and Atmosphere, Hobart, brought an interesting idea to prevent damage, to a certain extent. The idea is to release alkalinizing agents from ships to protect the Great Barrier Reef off the coast of Australia.
Coral skeletons are built out of carbonate ions, and when the water becomes more acidic, it disrupts the pH level, which reduces the concentration of carbonate ions in the water. This is what affects the coral reef's structure and results in bleaching. By adding alkalinizing agents to the water, the pH levels can become more alkaline, and the corals get a protection.
Planet Custodian explains how a coral is built: "Coral skeletons are made of aragonite, a form of calcium carbonate. Corals grow the skeletons upward with bundles of aragonite crystals, one top of each other. The buildup provides strength to the skeletons and helps to withstand the current and waves underwater."
There are many potential solutions to the declining health of the coral reef ecosystem that is under consideration. Among those are the proposal to boost alkalinity to balance the pH level to help the corals bounce back.
Researchers working on the project have stated that they used a coupled hydrodynamic-biogeochemical model that was approved for the Great Barrier Reef region, in order to test the method out. To cover the entire reef 30 000 tonnes of alkalinizing agents were needed and a big ship.
This strategy could offset ten years of ocean acidification in the area. Even though there isn't a permanent solution just yet, quick fixes and temporary solutions are vital for vulnerable areas while the world keeps on fighting the issues with global warming.
The results of this study were published on June 14th in IOP Publishing journal Environmental Research Letters.