Silver lining to coral reef climate cloud

A team of Researchers, led by Merinda Nash from Australian National University (ANU), have found parts of our coral reefs are more resistant to ocean acidification than first thought.

The study was published in the journal Nature Climate Change today (Monday 10th December) and details their analyses of the mineral structure of coralline algae.

Photo by Dr Bayden Russell, University of Adelaide

Photo by Dr Bayden Russell, University of Adelaide

The team involves Environment Institute member Dr Bayden Russell, who is one of the authors on the paper.

The researchers discovered an extra mineral, dolomite, in coralline algae, which made the organism less susceptible to being dissolved in increasingly acidic oceans.

“A coral reef is like a house – the coral are the bricks, but the coralline algae are the cement that holds it all together,” explains lead author and PhD candidate with the ANU Research School of Physics & Engineering, Merinda Nash.

“Researchers are concerned that when atmospheric carbon levels rise and ocean acidity increases, the magnesium calcite which makes up the coralline algae will dissolve first, threatening the very foundations of the reef.

“However, in a rare piece of good news, we found when we analysed algal samples from Heron Island on the Great Barrier Reef that the cell spaces in the algae were filled with dolomite, the same strong mineral that makes up the Dolomite Alps in Italy.”

Read the full media release sent out today by ANU.

Download a copy of the paper.



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