Palau’s coral reefs surprisingly resistant to ocean acidification

Oh, darn, that’s not supposed to happen. Ove Hoegh-Guldberg will be outraged.

Marine scientists working on the coral reefs of Palau have made two unexpected discoveries that could provide insight into corals’ resistance and resilience to ocean acidification.

From the National Science Foundation via Eurekalert:

Press Release 14-010
Palau’s coral reefs surprisingly resistant to ocean acidification

Corals living in more acidic waters are healthy, but is the situation one-of-a-kind?

Corals around Palau's Rock Islands.Corals living in more acidic bays around Palau’s Rock Islands are surprisingly healthy.
Credit and Larger Version

 

Marine scientists working on the coral reefs of Palau have made two unexpected discoveries that could provide insight into corals’ resistance and resilience to ocean acidification.

The team collected water samples at nine points along a transect that stretched from the open ocean, across a barrier reef, into a lagoon, and into the bays and inlets around the Rock Islands of Palau in the western Pacific Ocean.

With each location they found that the seawater became increasingly more acidic as they moved toward land.

“When we first plotted those data, we were shocked,” said chemical oceanographer Kathryn Shamberger of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI). “We had no idea the level of acidification we would find. We’re looking at reefs today that have levels that we expect for the open ocean in that region by the end of the century.”

Shamberger conducted the fieldwork with other WHOI researchers, including biogeochemist Anne Cohen, as well as with scientists from the Palau International Coral Reef Center.

The National Science Foundation (NSF) funded the research through its Ocean Acidification Program, part of the agency’s Science, Engineering and Education for Sustainability Investment.

“This important study documents a coral reef system that’s apparently resistant to the effects of ocean acidification,” said David Garrison, program director in NSF’s Division of Ocean Sciences. “Understanding what factors account for this will be critical follow-on research.”

While ocean chemistry varies naturally at different locations, it is changing around the world due to increased levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

The ocean absorbs atmospheric carbon dioxide, which reacts with seawater, lowering the water’s overall pH and making it more acidic.

This process also removes carbonate ions needed by corals and other organisms to build their skeletons and shells.

Corals growing in low pH conditions, both in laboratory experiments that simulate future conditions and in other naturally low pH ocean environments show a range of negative effects.

These include juveniles of various species with difficulty constructing skeletons, fewer varieties of corals, less coral cover, more algae growth and more porous corals with greater signs of erosion from other organisms.

The new research results, published in a paper in Geophysical Research Letters, a journal of the American Geophysical Union, explain the biological and geomorphological causes of the more acidic waters near Palau’s Rock Islands.

The paper also describes a surprising second finding–that the corals living in those more acidic waters were unexpectedly diverse and healthy.

The unusual finding, contrary to what has been observed in other naturally low pH coral reef ecosystems, has important implications for the conservation of corals in all parts of the world.

“When you move from a high pH reef to a low pH neighboring reef, there are big changes, and they are negative changes,” said Cohen, a co-author of the paper and principal investigaor of the project.

“However, in Palau wherever the water is most acidic, we see the opposite. There’s a coral community that is more diverse, hosts more species and has greater coral cover than in the non-acidic sites.

“Palau is the exception to other places scientists have studied.”

Through analysis of the water chemistry in Palau, the scientists found that the acidification is primarily caused by the shell-building done by organisms living in the water, called calcification, which removes carbonate ions from seawater.

A second reason is the organisms’ respiration, which adds carbon dioxide to the water when they breathe.

“These things are all happening at every reef,” said Cohen. “What’s critical is the residence time of the seawater.”

“In Palau’s Rock Islands, the water sits in the bays for a long time before being flushed out,” said Shamberger. “This is a big area that’s a maze with lots of channels and inlets for the water to wind around.

“Calcification and respiration are continually happening at these sites while the water sits there, allowing the water to become more and more acidic. It’s a little bit like being stuck in a room with a limited amount of oxygen–the longer you’re in there without opening a window, you’re using up oxygen and increasing carbon dioxide.”

Ordinarily, she added, without fresh air coming in, it would become harder and harder for living things to thrive, “yet in the case of the corals in Palau, we’re finding the opposite. Coral cover and diversity actually increase from the outer reefs into the Rock Islands.”

The next steps are to determine whether the corals are genetically adapted to low pH, or whether Palau provides a “perfect storm” of environmental conditions.

“If it’s the latter, it means that if you took those corals out of that specific environment and put them in another low pH environment that doesn’t have the same combination of conditions, they wouldn’t be able to survive,” said Cohen. “But if they’re genetically adapted to low pH, you could put them anywhere.”

“These reef communities have developed under these conditions for thousands of years,” said Shamberger. “These are conditions that are going to be occurring in a lot of the ocean by the end of the century.

“We don’t know if other coral reefs will be able to adapt to ocean acidification–the time scale might be too short.”

The scientists are careful to stress that their findings in Palau are different from every other low pH environment that has been studied.

“When we discover a reef like Palau where the coral communities are thriving under low pH, that’s an exception,” said Cohen.

“It doesn’t mean that coral reefs around the globe are going to be fine under ocean acidification conditions. It does mean that there are some coral communities out there–and we’ve found one–that appear to have figured it out. But that doesn’t mean that all coral reef ecosystems are going to figure it out.”

This research was also funded by the WHOI Ocean Life Institute and The Nature Conservancy.

-NSF-

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68 Responses to Palau’s coral reefs surprisingly resistant to ocean acidification

  1. Reblogged this on By the Mighty Mumford and commented:
    SCORE ANOTHER ONE AGAINST THE SCIENTIFIC FACISTS AND THEIR POWER PLAYS FOR WORLD DOMINATION!!!!!

  2. Marcos says:

    less alkaline IS NOT more acidic. sheesh…this is middle school level science

  3. Sweet Old Bob says:

    Low ph? Like ACID ? Yeah, right. And pigs fly.

  4. Leon Brozyna says:

    Oh.

    A press release.

    No reference to actual values, just the usual scare tactics of acidification. Always that sloppy pretend science that relies on issuing scares rather than being factually accurate and speaking of ocean alkalinity and neutralization.

    With each location they found that the seawater became increasingly more acidic as they moved toward land.

    Became more acidic suggests that it is already acidic and becoming even more acidic. Without specific values, the press release is meaningless.

    The ocean absorbs atmospheric carbon dioxide, which reacts with seawater, lowering the water’s overall pH and making it more acidic.

    There they go again, suggesting that the ocean’s already an acid and is now becoming even more acidic, rather than that it’s becoming less alkaline.

  5. Gail Combs says:

    “The ocean absorbs atmospheric carbon dioxide, which reacts with seawater, lowering the water’s overall pH and making it more acidic.”

    Oh good grief what a load of equine feces.

    1. The oceans are a BUFFERED solution.

    2. Warm water OUTGASSES CO2.

    3. It is COLD water that absorbs CO2.

    4. The oceans are alkaline because of the buffering.

    5. Rain water is naturally acidic that is why limestone caves form.

  6. Down to Earth says:

    Didn’t most carbonate dependent organisms evolve and proliferate at a time CO2 was 10-20 times (4000-8000)higher than now ?

  7. mareeS says:

    Why are these observations “surprising”? Only to people with an agenda. The rest of us just say “hmmm.” People have been diving on coral reefs only since the military-industrial people invented the means to do so in the 20thC, but the reefs and corals and fish have been around for quite a few millennia. I’m not putting my hand up to be taxed for some other person’s agenda.

  8. DesertYote says:

    “With each location they found that the seawater became increasingly more acidic as they moved toward land.

    “When we first plotted those data, we were shocked,” said chemical oceanographer Kathryn Shamberger …”

    ###
    An oceanographer who is clueless about how the ocean works. She is either a liar or a fraud or both.

  9. u.k.(us) says:

    “It doesn’t mean that coral reefs around the globe are going to be fine under ocean acidification conditions. It does mean that there are some coral communities out there–and we’ve found one–that appear to have figured it out. But that doesn’t mean that all coral reef ecosystems are going to figure it out.”
    =============
    Wanna bet ?
    Millions of years of evolution vs a single data point.

  10. Curious George says:

    “The ocean absorbs atmospheric carbon dioxide … This process also removes carbonate ions”. How come? Dissolved CO2 is carbonate ions. I would have expected better from a “chemical oceanographer.” Or maybe they should teach the press release person to double-check.

  11. markx says:

    ….the scientists found that the acidification is primarily caused by the shell-building done by organisms living in the water, called calcification, which removes carbonate ions from seawater.
    A second reason is the organisms’ respiration, which adds carbon dioxide to the water when they breathe.

    Hmmm…. so reef organisms cause ocean acidification. So healthier reefs result in a further lowering of pH?

    An issue of cause and effect?

  12. george e. smith says:

    Well how nice of these chaps to tell us all the nifty stuff they get to see, snorkeling and scuba diving in the tropical lagoons of Palau; probably on our nickel too !

    Keep it up you folks, it is better than stealing hub caps at night.

    Now I am a duly certified scuba diver; quite competent at normal coral depths and ocean acidity levels. I’m not certified for cave diving, or swimming in toxic chemical ponds; or other suicidal endeavors, but I could come and help you, look at the star fish, and even collect some reef specimens for you.

    I’m pretty good at capturing reef specimens, with a fly rod too, so I can work without incurring air tank refill costs.

    Gimme a shout, if you would like another enthusiastic beach bum for company.

  13. AussieBear says:

    So they have found a reef community that seems to thrive in slightly lower pH environment than expected. Maybe, just maybe, pH is NOT the deciding factor. One other grip is this illusion that they are taking pH measurements as if pH is a static variable. The pH value of seawater is NOT static and varies quite substantially over the course of a day and prevailing conditions. The high pH measurement could just as easily been made in open ocean. Again, depending on the time of day and prevailing conditions.

  14. george e. smith says:

    “””””…..Corals living in more acidic waters are healthy, but is the situation one-of-a-kind?…..”””””

    Now doesn’t that statement just sound like a clarion call, for some new diving chums; and grant money, to go check out some other island paradises; like maybe that Thailand place with the obscene name ??

    I gotta hand it to you ocean acidity geeks though. you are certainly a hell of a lot smarter, than those looney melting Antarctic ice maroons. Who the hell, in their right mind would want to do research, on ice, instead of in Mai-Thai-land ??

  15. Carlyle says:

    Sweet Old Bob says:

    January 23, 2014 at 3:39 pm

    Low ph? Like ACID ? Yeah, right. And pigs fly.
    That would be GM modified pigs Bob. Known as Pork Choppers :0

  16. JimF says:

    The mind boggles. “Increasingly acidic”, as in pH 7.8 suddenly transforming into pH 1.0? Or increasingly acidic, as in pH 7.8 transforming into pH 7.7? These people are harlots.

  17. Leon Brozyna says:

    Babble, babble …

    If this is the best science that we can expect from the NSF, perhaps they can pursue a study as a follow-up to today’s shocking news about Froot Loops® … what was shocking about it is that it was news.

  18. george e. smith says:

    “””””…….Gail Combs says:

    January 23, 2014 at 4:01 pm

    “The ocean absorbs atmospheric carbon dioxide, which reacts with seawater, lowering the water’s overall pH and making it more acidic.”

    Oh good grief what a load of equine feces……””””‘

    Well Gail, you just haven’t grasped the whole concept of “Anomalies”.
    +Plus is “global warming”, and – minus is an “ice age.”
    Or +plus is Draino, and – minus is Nitric Acid !

  19. tchannon says:

    “we were shocked”
    At confirming earlier findings? Anyone know of the papers?

  20. Eric Worrall says:

    Ocean acidification “damage” to tropical corals is utter nonsense.

    Natural rain water has a low PH, around 5 or even lower.

    http://purepro.com.au/blog/why-is-rain-water-acidic-low-ph

    So coral reefs, which occur in shallow, usually tropical seas, are regularly drenched with highly acid rainwater, due to tropical monsoons, or runoff from flood events such as the recent Australian floods.

    The suggestion that they can’t stand a slightly lower alkalinity was always going to be a complete crock.

  21. Don says:

    Front page article in the print edition of The Seattle Times today. Notice the reference to more money in the FIRST SENTENCE. Sorry, didn’t realize I was shouting.
    http://apps.seattletimes.com/reports/sea-change/2014/jan/22/struggling-next-steps/

  22. E.M.Smith says:

    Fresh water shell formers have to deal with real acid environments and do just fine. Nature is not frail:
    http://chiefio.wordpress.com/2012/03/08/clams-do-fine-in-acid-water/
    pH of 4.x in many (most?) cases…

    Now the ocean has a few megatons of metal nodules on the bottom, and more megatons of precipitated carbonates, so it isn’t going to go actually acid (pH of smaller than 7) in this epoch… too much buffer to deal with. After all, it has turned a few full percent of CO2 into carbonate rocks over the epochs. I think the ocean is capable of doing what it has done for millions of years.

    So, in summary, things from clams and shrimps and crawdads to various insects and crustaceans along with molluscs all manage to deal with pH 4.x fresh water with poor buffering; so that implies the biological systems can adapt. Coupled with the oceans are not going to actually ever become acid since all those megatons of “bottoms” are going to absorb any acid and neutralize it.

    Looking like a non-issue to me.

    Oh, btw, it was found that the main ingredient in many sun screens causes coral death. It’s not the CO2, it’s all the folks diving to look at them after putting on gallons of sun screen. It’s lethal to corals and such in ppm ranges, IIRC.

    http://www.nature.com/news/2008/080129/full/news.2008.537.html

    When they incubated each sample in seawater spiked with as little as 10 microlitres of sunscreen per litre, coral bleaching occurred within four days. Controls incubated in plain seawater remained healthy,
    [...]
    Danovaro and his team tested additional samples with several chemical components of suncreen and found that three UV-filtering chemicals (a cinnamate, a benzophenone and a camphor derivative) as well as butyl paraben, a preservative, caused the release of viral particles and bleached the coral. The other chemicals tested from the creams had no effect.

    But don’t worry, you can get “coral safe” sunscreen now (or so they claim)

    http://www.badgerbalm.com/s-35-coral-reef-safe-sunscreen.aspx

    Expect to see a recovery of reefs as folks start banning the sunscreens that kills them…

    In any case, it’s not the CO2 that’s the problem; it’s the folks trying to “save the planet” traipsing around spreading diseases and toxins in their enthusiasm to “love the planet to death”… Just “leave it alone” and the planet (and animals on it) will do fine…

  23. Curious George says:

    Mystery solved (97% confidence level): Palau serves excellent Black Russian cocktails.

  24. Louis says:

    Life finds a way. Who knew?

  25. davidxn says:

    “Life finds a way. Who knew?”

    Jeff Goldblum?

  26. thingadonta says:

    Yeah but according to Ove Hugh, even if we find that the world’s coral reefs are resistant to acidification, we still have to worry about the ones that haven’t been found that may not be resistant. We also have to worry about the effect that their resistance has on other organisms. We also have to worry about why they are resistant, whether this will continue indefinitely, and whether this will make people complacent about climate change.

    It’s the logic of the ever-expanding research grant.

  27. gymnosperm says:

    Carbon dioxide loves to swim, but warm water will have none of this frolicking and is way too busy outgassing the excess it has to absorb any of the nasty gas from the atmosphere. One needs to understand that most of the CO2 in water does not form Carbonic acid or otherwise chemically change. It just enjoys the dip treading water as molecular CO2.

    There is a strict lifeguard in the form of water temperature.

    Corals have been around a looong time. They can make their carbonate in different ways. Some of the modern genera may have got soft in the middle, but they will toughen up.

  28. Robber says:

    This is peer reviewed science? Where are the numbers describing standard ocean pH and the variations they found? According to Wikipedia: Between 1751 and 1994 surface ocean pH is estimated to have decreased from approximately 8.25 to 8.14,[5] representing an increase of almost 30% in H+ ion concentration in the world’s oceans. That’s not higher levels of acidification, that’s slightly less alkaline.
    The pH scale measures how acidic or basic a substance is. The pH scale ranges from 0 to 14. A pH of 7 is neutral. A pH less than 7 is acidic. A pH greater than 7 is basic.

    The pH scale is logarithmic and as a result, each whole pH value below 7 is ten times more acidic than the next higher value. For example, pH 4 is ten times more acidic than pH 5 and 100 times (10 times 10) more acidic than pH 6. The same holds true for pH values above 7, each of which is ten times more alkaline (another way to say basic) than the next lower whole value.

    Pure water has a pH of 7. So sea water is more than 10 times more alkaline.

    I found a chart at the Center for Ocean Solutions that predicts ocean pH may each 7.85 by 2100 – how can real scientists call that acidification?

  29. Mark Bofill says:

    Wow. So, the ecosystem isn’t actually a super delicate balance that can be devastated by the slightest parameter change? Amazing. Who’d have thunk it.

    But that doesn’t mean that all coral reef ecosystems are going to figure it out.

    Of course not. We only assume things are true when in doubt that promote the Cause after all.

  30. Streetcred says:

    “When we discover a reef like Palau where the coral communities are thriving under low pH, that’s an exception,” said Cohen.

    “It doesn’t mean that coral reefs around the globe are going to be fine under ocean acidification conditions. It does mean that there are some coral communities out there–and we’ve found one–that appear to have figured it out. But that doesn’t mean that all coral reef ecosystems are going to figure it out.”

    Time for the academics to get in touch with amateur coral propagators amongst the ranks of marine aquarists … they’d be in for one hell of a surprise, Acropora sp. grow just fine in pH as low as 7.6 and with quite rapid swings between night and day as well.

    I’ve had an academic researcher from Ove Hugh-Goldberg’s mob being quite surprised at the result we achieve, even conceding that they are not able to replicate such positive growth.

  31. G. Karst says:

    “However, in Palau wherever the water is most acidic, we see the opposite. There’s a coral community that is more diverse, hosts more species and has greater coral cover than in the non-acidic sites.

    I would say, the previous studies showing harm, should be re-examined for error (tomfoolery). Might save a ocean of time. GK

  32. GregK says:

    The news release didn’t contain any numbers but……

    “Through analysis of the water chemistry in Palau, the scientists found the acidification is primarily caused by the shell building done by the organisms living in the water, called calcification, which removes carbonate ions from seawater. A second reason is the organisms’ respiration, which adds CO2 to the water when they breathe”.

    Or so they say. Might be true.

  33. MattS says:

    You’ve killed the NSF web servers. Even the main nsf.gov page won’t load.

  34. john robertson says:

    This is modern science?
    No measurements required, no PH value given, oh joy.

  35. higley7 says:

    It’s called metabolic power. Coral reefs have been around for 600 million years and evolved under much higher CO2 concentrations. What idiot would think that they could not withstands the effects of a slight increase of low concentration CO2? We are lucky that CO2 is not low enough to kill them off altogether. We live in a particularly Co2 deficient time. It should be much higher.

  36. the scientists found that the acidification is primarily caused by
    1. the shell-building done by organisms living in the water, called calcification, which removes carbonate ions from seawater.
    2. the organisms’ respiration, which adds carbon dioxide to the water when they breathe.

    In other words, if the ocean is getting more acidic (less basic) a possible reason is that life in the oceans in general and shell building life in particular is INCREASING.

    Cancel the panic.

    I would have like to see the pH levels along the transect. How low is low?
    How much did pH vary by tidal cycle, by lunar month, by season.

  37. Mac the Knife says:

    It appears the Palau corals are more adaptable…. and more intelligent than the chemical oceanographer Kathryn Shamberger and the biogeochemist Anne Cohen.

  38. AlecM says:

    The corals produce calcite in closed sections where pH is controlled by the organism. This developed long ago when seas were much more cid than now. There’s no problem.

  39. SAMURAI says:

    Over the past 250 million years, the average ocean pH has been around 7.7 and all sea life thrived.

    From 1750 to the present, ocean pH dropped from 8.2 to 8.1, which is still the most alkaline the oceans have ever been since multicellular life evolved.

    If anything, an excellent case could be made that oceans are now too alkaline, but why anyone would wish to make such a silly claim is ludicrous.

    Wouldn’t it be ironic if after the CAGW hypothesis is finally thrown on trash heap of failed ideas, the next doom and gloom hypothesis is that oceans are becoming too alkaline and humans need to emit more CO2 to save the dolphins? Screw the Polar Bears! They’re man eaters anyway! LOL!

    Any ideas on what the next contrived anthropogenic crisis will be since CAGW is already toast?

    My money is on Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Cooling… All these soon to be unemployable CAGW alarmists need a new crisis to propagandize.

  40. sophocles says:

    The … press release(?) states:
    The ocean absorbs atmospheric carbon dioxide, which reacts with seawater, lowering the water’s overall pH and making it more acidic.
    ========================================
    Umm. Don’t the satellite data bases show the oceans are out-gassing? That means
    CO2 is not being absorbed.
    When I last did chemistry, (quite a long time ago…) CO2 entering water INITIALLY
    forms Carbonic acid, H2CO3, which, in the presence of more water molecules,
    immediately dissociates into bicarbonate ions, some of which, in the presence of
    even more water molecules, further dissociates into carbonate ions. Both the
    bicarbonateand carbonate ions are powerfully alkaline.
    ie; CO2 + H2O -> HCO3- + H3O+ (which is weakly acidic) and
    HCO3- + H2O -> CO3= + H3O+
    giving an overall pH of 8.2 – 8.8. which is alkaline.

    From my biology and zoology studies, animal lifeforms are predominately acidic
    and thrive in non-alkaline environments. The alkalinity of the sea requires life
    forms to take “steps” to not only survive but thrive, eg: the mucus/slime secretions
    of eels.

    Also, a paper recently reviewed here claims the oceans “… are at their most alkaline
    in the last 200,000 years.”

    If that is so, and the satellites detecting the oceans are out-gassing, then all this
    ‘ocean acidification” baloney is intellectual ‘self-pleasuring.’

    I would like to get their data, especially their pH measurements…

  41. steveta_uk says:

    Adding CO2 to sea water makes it more acidic.

    In exactly the same way that giving $1 to a homeless bum makes him more wealthy.

  42. johnmarshall says:

    So called ”acidified” sea water is STILL ALKALI. These claims fly in the face of the facts. Ocean water has a pH between 7.6 and 8.3 and ALL ocean surface water lies between these well known figures. Even areas where CO2 is bubbling up from rocks below the pH remains in the alkali area.
    It is about time this rubbish was squashed.

  43. richard says:

    just had a look at lovely pics of puerto rico coral

    “Puerto Rico: For Class SB and SC waters, in no case the pH will lie outside the range of 7.3-8.5 standard
    pH units, except when caused by natural phenomena. Class SA waters are coastal and estuarine waters of
    high quality and/or exceptional ecological or recreational value”

  44. Gail Combs says:

    higley7 says: @ January 23, 2014 at 9:29 pm

    “… What idiot would think that they could not withstands the effects of a slight increase of low concentration CO2? We are lucky that CO2 is not low enough to kill them off altogether. We live in a particularly Co2 deficient time. It should be much higher.”
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    Now there is the heart of the matter. Carbon starvation in glacial trees recovered from the La Brea tar pits, southern California

    What the heck are kids taught in school these days?

    Freedom is slavery.
    Ignorance is strength.

    Seems Orwell was prophetic.

  45. richard says:

    just looked at some lovely coral off the florida coast.

    “Florida: For Class II and III (marine) waters, pH shall not vary more than one unit above or below
    natural background of coastal waters, provided that the pH is not lowered to less than 6.5 units or raised
    above 8.5 units. If natural background is less than 6.5 units in marine waters, the pH shall not vary below
    natural background or vary more than one unit above natural background levels. If natural background is
    higher than 8.5 units, the pH shall not vary above natural background or vary more than one unit below
    natural background”

  46. richard says:

    some lovely reefs at American Samoa.

    “US EPA Region 9
    American Samoa: “pH range is 6.5-8.6 (+/- 0.2 pH units of that which could naturally occur).”

  47. richard says:

    hmmm, Guam coral reefs,

    “Guam: “For open ocean waters where the depth is substantially greater than the euphotic zone, the pH
    should not be changed more than 0.2 units from the naturally occurring variation, or in any case outside
    the range of 6.5 to 8.5.”

  48. Louis Hooffstetter says:

    “When we first plotted those data, we were shocked. We had no idea the level of acidification we would find.” – Chemical oceanographer Kathryn Shamberger of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI).

    Seriously? I’m shocked the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution has ‘chemical oceanographers’ who are so blatantly ignorant of ocean chemistry.

    They need to quickly clear out this dead-wood and hire some real chemists.

  49. richard says:

    ““When we discover a reef like Palau where the coral communities are thriving under low pH, that’s an exception,” said Cohe”

    uh no, not really.

  50. Jimbo says:

    • Today’s atmospheric co2 levels are around 400ppm.

    • The early Ordovician had high co2 levels at around 7000 ppm and fell to just over 4000ppm. •

    • An ice age began in the Ordovician.

    • Corals began to evolve during the Ordovician.

    Is it just possible that corals can survive in the oceans with the projected levels of business as usual co2 rise by the end of this century of no more than 950ppm? It is possible that the biosphere will continue greening?

    Back to the future. We must act then! Time ‘had’ running out!

    “Ordovician corals from Ida Bay, Queenstown and Zeehan, Tasmania”
    University of Tasmania
    http://eprints.utas.edu.au/13964/1/1955_Hill_Ordovician_corals_Ida_Bay.pdf

    http://paleobiology.si.edu/geotime/main/htmlversion/ordovician2.html

  51. Jimbo says:

    “When we first plotted those data, we were shocked,” said chemical oceanographer Kathryn Shamberger of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI). “We had no idea the level of acidification we would find. We’re looking at reefs today that have levels that we expect for the open ocean in that region by the end of the century.”

    Calamatologists will continue to be ‘shocked’ as long a they leave their computer games at home and go out looking into the resilient Earth.

  52. Jimbo says:

    Corals growing in low pH conditions, both in laboratory experiments that simulate future conditions and in other naturally low pH ocean environments show a range of negative effects.

    It can only be negative. We must act now!

    Abstract – Bethan M. Jones et. al – 12 April 2013
    Responses of the Emiliania huxleyi Proteome to Ocean Acidification
    ….We employed an approach combining tandem mass-spectrometry with isobaric tagging (iTRAQ) and multiple database searching to identify proteins that were differentially expressed in cells of the marine coccolithophore species Emiliania huxleyi (strain NZEH) between two CO2 conditions: 395 (~current day) and ~1340 p.p.m.v. CO2……..Under high CO2 conditions, coccospheres were larger and cells possessed bigger coccoliths that did not show any signs of malformation compared to those from cells grown under present-day CO2 levels. No differences in calcification rate, particulate organic carbon production or cellular organic carbon: nitrogen ratios were observed….
    doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0061868


    Abstract – T. Cyronak et. al. – April 2013
    Groundwater and porewater as major sources of alkalinity to a fringing coral reef lagoon (Muri Lagoon, Cook Islands)

    …This study quantifies the contribution of shallow porewater exchange (as quantified from advective chamber incubations) and fresh groundwater discharge (as traced by 222Rn) to total alkalinity (TA) dynamics on a fringing coral reef lagoon along the southern Pacific island of Rarotonga over a tidal and diel cycle….

    …This study describes overlooked sources of TA to coral reef ecosystems that can potentially alter water column carbonate chemistry. We suggest that porewater and groundwater fluxes of TA should be taken into account in ocean acidification models in order to properly address changing carbonate chemistry within coral reef ecosystems.

    doi:10.5194/bg-10-2467-2013

    Abstract – Gabrielle M. Miller et. al. – May 2013
    Increased CO2 stimulates reproduction in a coral reef fish
    ………We investigated the effects of near-future levels of pCO2 on the reproductive performance of the cinnamon anemonefish, Amphiprion melanopus, from the Great Barrier Reef, Australia. Breeding pairs were held under three CO2 treatments [Current-day Control (430 μatm), Moderate (584 μatm) and High (1032 μatm)] for a 9-month period that included the summer breeding season. Unexpectedly, increased CO2 dramatically stimulated breeding activity in this species of fish. Over twice as many pairs bred in the Moderate (67% of pairs) and High (55%) compared to the Control (27%) CO2 treatment. Pairs in the High CO2 group produced double the number of clutches per pair and 67% more eggs per clutch compared to the Moderate and Control groups. As a result, reproductive output in the High group was 82% higher than that in the Control group and 50% higher than that in the Moderate group. Despite the increase in reproductive activity, there was no difference in adult body condition among the three treatment groups. There was no significant difference in hatchling length between the treatment groups, but larvae from the High CO2 group had smaller yolks than Controls. This study provides the first evidence of the potential effects of ocean acidification on key reproductive attributes of marine fishes and, contrary to expectations, demonstrates an initially stimulatory (hormetic) effect in response to increased pCO2. However, any long-term consequences of increased reproductive effort on individuals or populations remain to be determined.
    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/gcb.12259/abstract

    Abstract – Morgan W. Kelly et. al. – 11 June 2013
    Natural variation and the capacity to adapt to ocean acidification in the keystone sea urchin Strongylocentrotus purpuratus

    …However, nearly all of this work has focused on the effects of future conditions on modern populations, neglecting the role of adaptation…..These results suggest that spatially varying selection may help to maintain genetic variation necessary for adaptation to future ocean acidification.
    doi:10.1111/gcb.12251

  53. Howarth Rowe says:

    I know I am the hundredth person to repeat this but all statements similar to “With each location they found that the seawater became increasingly more acidic as they moved toward land.” should be “seawater became more neutral”. We know it is agenda driven when the author completely skips over neutral and place acidic into the conversation/propaganda. But then word search won’t pick up neutral when the alarmist industry looks for a paper.

  54. hunter says:

    What is surprising about noticing that an ancient form of life, well adapted to a large range of conditions, is able to adapt as well to dynamic pH? AGW reduces the reasoning ability of its ardent believers.

  55. Tim says:

    I challenge anyone to work their way back through the journals citation tree and find the physical evidence to support higher pH in pre-industrial times. I tried, but could only ever find an a assumption.

  56. milodonharlani says:

    Jimbo says:
    January 24, 2014 at 5:12 am

    The two main Paleozoic orders of coral, tabulate & rugose, were wiped out in the end Permian mass extinction event. They were replaced in the mid-Triassic fossil record by modern corals. The older orders thrived under atmospheric CO2 concentrations from 7000 ppm in the Cambrian to 300 ppm or less in the late Carboniferous to early Permian glaciation. Modern corals survived repeated excursions below 200 ppm during the Pleistocene glacial advances & levels on the order of ten times higher in the Mesozoic & early Cenozoic hot houses.

    The threat of “acidification” to corals is complete, total & utter garbage purveyed by professional liars.

  57. richard says:

    jimbo says,

    “Corals growing in low pH conditions, both in laboratory experiments that simulate future conditions ”

    what PH – how low in the laboratory, We have seen how the EPA allow acidic waters in areas of coral.

    “and in other naturally low pH ocean environments show a range of negative effects”

    “naturally low pH ocean environments” – what are you trying to say?

    Most negative effects were from pollution and on certain islands it was heavily used as a building material.

    Moat coral around the world is in good order.

  58. Jimbo says:

    richard says:
    January 24, 2014 at 7:54 am

    jimbo says,

    “Corals growing in low pH conditions, both in laboratory experiments that simulate future conditions ”…………

    You have not quoted me. You quoted what I indented and quoted as per the press release. Look at my comment again at the link provided below.

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2014/01/23/palaus-coral-reefs-surprisingly-resistant-to-ocean-acidification/#comment-1547591

  59. Jimbo says:

    Corals living in more acidic waters are healthy, but is the situation one-of-a-kind?

    Here is another example of thriving corals with co2 bubbling between the corals in Papua New Guinea.
    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/12/28/the-fishes-and-the-coral-live-happily-in-the-co2-bubble-plume/

    Unrealistic co2 experiment yields great results! Will the corals survive under our projected co2 output? I think they just might.

    “Responses of Scleractinian Corals to Ocean Acidification” – 2010
    In the words of the seven scientists who conducted the study, “following 14 months incubation under reduced pH conditions, all coral fragments survived and added new skeletal calcium carbonate, despite Ωarag values as low as 1.25 and 0.65.” This was done, however, at a reduced rate of calcification compared to fragments growing in the normal pH treatment with a Ωarag value of 3.99. Yet in spite of this reduction in skeletal growth, they report that “tissue biomass (measured by protein concentration) was found to be higher in both species after 14 months of growth under increased CO2.” And they further note that the same phenomenon had been seen by Fine and Tchernov (2007),
    …………..
    In concluding their paper, Krief et al. say “the long acclimation time of this study allowed the coral colonies to reach a steady state in terms of their physiological responses to elevated CO2,” and that “the deposition of skeleton in seawater with Ωarag < 1 demonstrates the ability of both species to calcify by modifying internal pH toward more alkaline conditions." As a result, they further state that "the physiological response to higher CO2/lower pH conditions was significant, but less extreme than reported in previous experiments," suggesting that "scleractinian coral species will be able to acclimate to a high CO2 ocean even if changes in seawater pH are faster and more dramatic than predicted."
    http://www.co2science.org/articles/V13/N48/EDIT.php

    Willis says it best.

    The ocean is not getting acidified by additional CO2. It is getting neutralized by additional CO2.
    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/12/27/the-ocean-is-not-getting-acidified/

  60. richard says:

    your right, sorry,

    Must read all the post!!!!!

  61. Robert W Turner says:

    Anyone have any links to these fabled papers showing damage to coral reefs from carbonic acid in the NATURAL environment?

  62. Steve Garcia says:

    Richard Feynman on the Scientific Method: “First, you must make a guess… Then you must compare your guess to experience, or experiment… If the results disagree with the guess, then the guess is WRONG.”

    @AussieBear January 23, 2014 at 5:25 pm:
    “So they have found a reef community that seems to thrive in slightly lower pH environment than expected.”

    An expectation, at its core, is a guess – that the future will be a certain way.

    “If the results of experience disagree with the guess, then the guess is WRONG.”

    But warmists continually confuse themselves and the issues by insisting that somehow the real-world results mean something other than them being wrong.

    No. They are just wrong. Your garden variety of wrong.

  63. Steve Garcia says:

    Oh, and I’d be remiss if I did not equate this ocean acidification to acid rain.

    Acid rain was a short-lived tree-hugger claim that industrial smokestack output was causing lakes in the NE USA, Canada and Europe to become acidic. It got so much press that the US Congress authorized money to sample lakes in the NE US. $35 million as I recall. Tree huggers bounded with glee into the woods to sample every lake in the entire NE.

    The result? ONE – and only one – very small pond in a remote corner of NY state was measured as being acidic. ALL OF THE OTHER LAKES were found to be just fine.

    That was about the last anybody heard of acid rain.

    The enviros seem to be more hard-headed – more reality resistant – now than back in those days.

    It’s probably a good thing that this paper was not accepted by Pattern Recognition in Physics journal.

  64. polski says:

    Coral needs CO2 to breathe and yet >[CO2] hurts it?

    The Role of Zooxanthellae

    Each coral polyp is the host organism for photosynthetic algae called zooxanthellae. Photosynthetic means that the algae require sunlight to produce food, so coral reefs are found in shallow, clear water. However, the algae also require water and carbon dioxide, which are provided by the coral as by-products of its cellular respiration. In turn, the algae produce glucose (sugar), glycerol (fat), amino acids (used in making protein) and oxygen, all of which are needed by the coral to make its food.

    Mutual Benefits

    Both the coral and the zooxanthellae need this mutually beneficial relationship to survive. Coral provides protection, water and carbon dioxide for the algae, while the algae give the coral the nutrients it needs to produce food. In fact, the coral is so dependent on the algae that it acts in many ways like a plant, such as living where there is sufficient sunlight. Coral colonies that become stressed due to environmental conditions may expel, or blow, all the zooxanthellae, a process known as coral bleaching. When this happens, the coral soon dies.

    Reef Building

    A coral polyp secretes calcium carbonate, formed with the help of the zooxanthellae, to make the hard stony calyx. This acts as an external skeleton, providing protection from predators. From time to time, a polyp raises itself up off the floor of its calyx and secretes a new floor, leaving a small space between the new and old base. Over thousands of years, a colony of coral polyps secretes enough calcium carbonate to build a reef.

    Read more: http://www.ehow.com/about_6365542_do-coral-reefs-depend-photosynthesis_.html#ixzz2rKwi1Mtw

  65. tobyw says:

    Bad science not giving a table with the pH ranges, but then so is embarking on an income redistribution scheme without specifying how much redistribution is intended, how much improvement of the situation of the supposed recipients is intended, and if indeed any improvement in low standards of living are intended at all, or is it just to soak those more wealthy.

  66. DD More says:

    “These reef communities have developed under these conditions for thousands of years,” said Shamberger. “These are conditions that are going to be occurring in a lot of the ocean by the end of the century.
    “We don’t know if other coral reefs will be able to adapt to ocean acidification–the time scale might be too short.”

    I believe coral may be a little tougher and these worries are idiotic. From http://www.bikiniatoll.com/BIKINICORALS.pdf

    In the northern atolls of the Marshall Islands, 23 nuclear tests with a total yield of 76.3 megatons (TNT equivalent) were conducted across seven test sites located either on the reef, on the sea, in the air and underwater between 1946 and 1958. Five craters were created, the deepest being the Bravo crater at 73 m depth (Noshkin et al., 1997a) (Figs. 2, 3). Post-test descriptions of environmental impacts include: surface seawater temperatures raised by 55,000 C after air-borne tests; blast waves with speeds of up to 8 m/s; and shock and surface waves up to 30 m high with blast columns reaching the floor of the lagoon (approximately 70 m depth)

    The results of our nuclear war on coral.
    A total of 183 scleractinian coral species was recorded, compared to 126 species recorded in the previous study

    There are more species now than then.

  67. gymnosperm says:
    January 23, 2014 at 7:36 pm

    Carbon dioxide loves to swim, but warm water will have none of this frolicking and is way too busy outgassing the excess it has to absorb any of the nasty gas from the atmosphere. One needs to understand that most of the CO2 in water does not form Carbonic acid or otherwise chemically change. It just enjoys the dip treading water as molecular CO2.

    Not completely right: CO2 when dissolved in water can always be found in three forms: free CO2 (including a small amount of H2CO3, carbonic acid), bicarbonate ions and carbonate ions. How much of each depends of the pH: pure (rain)water is 99% free CO2 and a little bicarbonate and near zero carbonate ions at a low, slightly acid pH. Seawater is 1% free CO2, 90% bicarbonate and 9% carbonate. The Bjerrum plot gives the relative amounts of the three forms for seawater at different pH levels:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bjerrum_plot

    If there is no continuous supply of fresh upwelling deep ocean waters, the ocean surface will get in equilibrium with the atmosphere for any temperature. If the CO2 pressure increases in the atmosphere, more CO2 will be dissoolved in the ocean surface, no matter its temperature.
    But as there is a continuous upwelling, especially in the Pacific equatorial ocean, there is a continuous release of CO2. Near the poles, the sinking cold waters take a lot of extra CO2 with them into the deep oceans to return near the equator some 1000 years later… The effect of more CO2 in the atmosphere is to increase the uptake and decrease the release, as the exchange rate is directly proportional to the partial pressure difference of CO2 between waters and atmosphere. Much information can be found at:
    http://www.pmel.noaa.gov/pubs/outstand/feel2331/maps.shtml
    and the previous and following sections…

    And as so many have already indicated: there is not the slightest damage to fear from the extra CO2 by corals and coccoliths, which did evolve in CO2 levels many times higher than today or the next centuries… See the magnificent pages of the Huxleyi coccolitophores (but don’t bother their GW stance):
    http://www.soes.soton.ac.uk/staff/tt/eh/index.html

  68. Bob Diaz says:

    I don’t recall the time period when coral evolved, but I’m sure it was when CO2 levels were around 1,000 —> 5,000 PPM. No surprise that they are resistance to this.

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