Claim: Ocean acidification causing coral ‘osteoporosis’ on iconic reefs

WOODS HOLE OCEANOGRAPHIC INSTITUTION

Scientists have long suspected that ocean acidification is affecting corals’ ability to build their skeletons, but it has been challenging to isolate its effect from that of simultaneous warming ocean temperatures, which also influence coral growth. New research from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) reveals the distinct impact that ocean acidification is having on coral growth on some of the world’s iconic reefs.

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IMAGE: WHOI SCIENTIST ANNE COHEN (LEFT) AND MIT-WHOI JOINT PROGRAM STUDENT NATHAN MOLLICA EXTRACT CORE SAMPLES FROM A GIANT PORITES CORAL IN RISONG BAY, PALAU. view more CREDIT: PHOTO BY RICHARD BROOKS, LIGHTNING STRIKE MEDIA PRODUCTIONS, PALAU.

In a paper published Aug. 27, 2020, in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, researchers show a significant reduction in the density of coral skeleton along much of the Great Barrier Reef–the world’s largest coral reef system–and also on two reefs in the South China Sea, which they attribute largely to the increasing acidity of the waters surrounding these reefs since 1950.

“This is the first unambiguous detection and attribution of ocean acidification’s impact on coral growth,” says lead author and WHOI scientist Weifu Guo. “Our study presents strong evidence that 20th century ocean acidification, exacerbated by reef biogeochemical processes, had measurable effects on the growth of a keystone reef-building coral species across the Great Barrier Reef and in the South China Sea. These effects will likely accelerate as ocean acidification progresses over the next several decades.”

Roughly a third of global carbon dioxide emissions are absorbed by the ocean, causing an average 0.1 unit decline in seawater pH since the pre-industrial era. This phenomenon, known as ocean acidification, has led to a 20 percent decrease in the concentration of carbonate ions in seawater. Animals that rely on calcium carbonate to create their skeletons, such as corals, are at risk as ocean pH continues to decline. Ocean acidification targets the density of the skeleton, silently whittling away at the coral’s strength, much like osteoporosis weakens bones in humans.

“The corals aren’t able to tell us what they’re feeling, but we can see it in their skeletons,” said Anne Cohen, a WHOI scientist and co-author of the study. “The problem is that corals really need the strength they get from their density, because that’s what keeps reefs from breaking apart. The compounding effects of temperature, local stressors, and now ocean acidification will be devastating for many reefs.”

In their investigation, Guo and his co-authors examined published data collected from the skeletons of Porites corals–a long-living, dome-shaped species found across the Indo-Pacific– combined with new three-dimensional CT scan images of Porites from reefs in the central Pacific Ocean. Using these skeletal archives, which date back to 1871, 1901, and 1978, respectively, the researchers established the corals’ annual growth and density. They plugged this information, as well as historical temperature and seawater chemistry data from each reef, into a model to predict the corals’ response to constant and changing environmental conditions.

The authors found that ocean acidification caused a significant decline in Porites skeletal density in the Great Barrier Reef (13 percent) and the South China Sea (7 percent), starting around 1950. Conversely, they found no impact of ocean acidification on the same types of corals in the Phoenix Islands and central Pacific, where the protected reefs are not as impacted by pollution, overfishing, runoff from land.

While carbon dioxide emissions are the largest driver of ocean acidification on a global scale, the authors point out that sewage and runoff from land can exacerbate the effect, causing even further reductions of seawater pH on nearby reefs. The authors attribute the declining skeletal density of corals on the Great Barrier Reef and South China Sea to the combined effects of ocean acidification and runoff. Conversely, reefs in marine protected areas of the central Pacific have so far been shielded from these impacts.

“This method really opens a new way to determine the impact of ocean acidification on reefs around the world,” said Guo. “Then we can focus on the reef systems where we can potentially mitigate the local impacts and protect the reef.”

Co-authors of the paper include Rohit Bokade (Northeastern University), Nathaniel Mollica (MIT-WHOI joint program), and Muriel Leung (University of Pennsylvania), as well as Russell Brainard of King Abdullah University of Science and Technology and formerly at the Coral Reef Ecosystem Division of the Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center.

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Funding for this research was provided by the National Science Foundation, the Tiffany & Co. Foundation, the Robertson Foundation, the Atlantic Donor Advised Fund, and WHOI’s Investment in Science Fund.

The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution is a private, non-profit organization on Cape Cod, Mass., dedicated to marine research, engineering, and higher education. Established in 1930 on a recommendation from the National Academy of Sciences, its primary mission is to understand the ocean and its interaction with the Earth as a whole, and to communicate a basic understanding of the ocean’s role in the changing global environment. For more information, please visit http://www.whoi.edu.

Key Takeaways

An innovative numerical model developed by researchers at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution demonstrates the distinct impact of ocean acidification–separate from ocean warming–on coral growth.

The model shows that ocean acidification has caused a 13 percent decline in the skeletal density of Porites corals in the Great Barrier Reef, and a 7 percent decline in the South China Sea since 1950.

Pollution and land runoff can exacerbate the effects of ocean acidification, causing corals in local reefs to weaken more quickly than those located farther away from human settlements.

A global-scale investigation of coral CT scans could help to target protections for vulnerable reefs.

From EurekAlert!

92 thoughts on “Claim: Ocean acidification causing coral ‘osteoporosis’ on iconic reefs

    • The article as published here seems to indicate the decrease in density was a modeled output, based on a theoretical starting value from before there was any way to measure ocean pH.. Were there any actual measurements of before/after that show the claimed results?

      From what I’ve read, the decrease in pH is only a modeled number. Actual measurements have detected pH changes (aside from season differences, algal bloom conditions, and other temporary variations) have only been found in a few very local situations. Is this not true?

  1. Like global warming, ocean acidification is “worldwide”, but only occurs where human activity is most active (urban heat islands). Acidification impact to coral is not occurring in protected areas without pollution, land runoff, island construction (is not exacerbating acidification). Interpretation is in the eye of the believer.

    • MR. Quarles: I saw that, too. My analogy would be to the man found dead in his closed garage with car motor running. These folks say he died of increased air acidification from co2. The neighbor who left his motor running with garage door open was ok. They would explain this as, the air acidification was intensified by carbon monoxide in the case of the dead guy.

      Carbonate ions down 20% when ph goes from 8.2 to 8.1? Measured? I could be wrong, but that doesn’t compute.

      The “thinning skeleton” is the decaying structure underlying AGW theory.

  2. nice overseas jolly for 4 or more people to take core samples from coral

    I seem to remember that fast growing trees and plants generally don’t have the same density as slow growing ones, the key words are `fast` and `growing`

    • I agree this is a plea for more tax-funded “working vacation” trips to lovely, exotic ports of call.

      Isn’t it interesting that whenever someone states “Increased atmospheric CO2 CAUSED acidification” of ocean waters, they seem to fail to show any contemporaneous MEASUREMENTS of marine pH. Hmmmm – no data, just attribution

      The oceanographic research I have read that actually reports measurements of marine pH shows wide variation on daily, seasonal, and annual timescales. So what is the value of “averaged pH” when the coral is responding to very local, highly variable conditions?

      This work is flawed by bias from the start

      No more SCUBA trips for you, young lady. Time to go back to the library and study chemistry and oceanography.

  3. OK, someone has to say it, so I might as well be the one to point out that “ocean acidification” is actually “ocean declining alkalinity.” The ocean is not turning to acid, and never will under current or anticipated conditions. But it’s alkalinity of 8.2 has declined to about 8.1 since the beginning of industrialization, or so it is claimed. If you want to call that “acidification” – and anyone who wants to be published has to call it that – have at it. No need to cling to the niceties of science when a juicy grant is on the line.

    • “No need to cling to the niceties of science when a juicy grant is on the line.”

      A juicy grant IS the ‘niceties of science’ nowadays. Ask any climate researcher why they are doing their job. They will NOT say “to discover the truth about natural processes”. Most likely they will say “to make the world a better place” – where ‘a better place’ involves getting the Democrats elected in the US, and pro rata for any European country….

    • Let’s just ignore the carbonate sand and mud that comprises the seafloor of every carbonate platform around the world’s oceans.

    • Edward
      The Usual Suspects (aka researchers) have rejected the historical measurements and used a model to extrapolate backwards in time the average pre-industrial pH.

  4. I am sick and tired continuously freshly minted alarmist claims that turn out to be “not quite so, but…” – and the research to produce them paid by public money!

    I guess I’m on the wrong side: I too would like to have a paid vacation on Palau to drill into corals or whatever.

  5. MY ‘Key Takeaways’ …
    An innovative numerical MODEL… (what brand & colour of Plasticine did they use ???)
    demonstrates the distinct impact of ocean ACIDIFICATION … (when did the ocean move from alkaline to fresh pH7 to acid ???)

    “Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! are NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR THE ACCURACY of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert system.”

    And there was me thinking that settled science says coral, chalk & limestone was caused by CO2 in ocean !! water

  6. “The authors attribute the declining skeletal density of corals on the Great Barrier Reef and South China Sea to the combined effects of ocean acidification and runoff. Conversely, reefs in marine protected areas of the central Pacific have so far been shielded from these impacts.”

    So where there’s no run-off, there’s no problem. But where there is run-off, the problem is due to ocean acidification as well.

    So the solution to the effects of ocean acidification is simply to stop run-off apparently.

    Any other global problems you’d like me to solve while I’m here?

    Also may I have a free trip to Pulau please?

    • Two causes are not separately quantified. When one of the causes is absent, and the effect disappears entirely, we have problem in basic logic. Or is the extra CO2 not present in the air over some remote islands?

  7. “They plugged this information, as well as historical temperature and seawater chemistry data from each reef, into a model to predict the corals’ response to constant and changing environmental conditions.”

    A model?

  8. No “scientist” says a declining ph number, still in the alkaline range, is acidification. Measuring a decrease in density of corals almost certainly actually means that their growth-rate has accelerated and they are getting bigger/faster. This is political science from one of the usual suspects.

    • Ron Long wrote: “Measuring a decrease in density of corals almost certainly actually means that their growth-rate has accelerated and they are getting bigger/faster.”

      This was exactly my thought as well. Decreasing density means that the corals are growing at a faster rate. This is usually a sign of good health, more nutrition, or something like that. And the added nutrition is probably far more likely to be from runoff than from CO2 dissolved in the water from the air, in any case. And besides, isn’t the water, if it’s warmed by CO2, then going to give OFF more of it’s already dissolved CO2 to the air? Where do we see this measurement?

      This faux scare appears to be not unlike the argument that alarmists make about crop foods, which are growing faster because of CO2 fertilization, having less nutritional value per unit of measure because they’re growing so fast. As an economic argument it fails even most basic sniff test, as some real commercial greenhouses, at that own expense, pump in CO2 artificially, in order to enhance plant growth. But the tendentious alarm mongers care not one whit that the extra CO2 makes much, much more overall nutrition, only in desperately finding a measure that they can interpret as a negative to advance their narrative. Ergo now we must be worried by slightly less nutrition per unit of measure. Of course, we might also decide that this extra volume is roughage, which is good for the digestion, good for the colon. We could say that, if we wanted to, could we not? Thus, we could report that the extra growth is not just good, but doubly good (Or doubleplusgood, since they are totalitarians at heart, should we not associate climate scare stories with Orwellian terminology).

      I’d bet $100 that the divers drilling the cores from these corals , with their suntan lotions, their oily hands, their coring drill bits, are impacting this coral far more than is atmospheric or dissolved CO2. Runoff of agricultural chemicals and fertilizers IS a legitimate concern, which should be understood and mitigated, where possible and practical. But how can you understand a topic when you tendentiously and falsely ask the wrong questions of the natural world?

  9. Ocean “acidification” is a confected non issue.
    According to the last Australian State of the Climate Report, “ acidification” in the Oceans around the Australian continent has seen Ph reduce over the last century from 8.18 to 8.08.
    The IPCC figure notes a decline worldwide in Ph from ~8.2 to ~ 8.1 since pre- industrial times.
    The world oceans have been alkaline since the late Precambrian, about 750 million years ago when the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere was up to 20 times higher than now.( Kump et al 2000).
    Since the Precambrian, CO2 has been progressively removed from the atmosphere via inorganic and organic carbonate sediment deposition mostly in marine environments.
    These geological, geochemical and biological processes continue today in an ocean that is heavily buffered by water rock and water sediment reactions.
    In effect it is difficult to permanently change the ocean Ph by adding acids (including the mildly acidic H2CO3) or bases because any increase or decrease in the number of hydrogen ions is first compensated for by reactions with other minerals present, for example clay minerals.
    Although the boron isotope analysis is controversial, as long ago as the middle Eocene, some 45 million years ago, the Ph range in shallow water is estimated to have been similar to today, at 8.33 to 7.91.( Holland H.D. “The Chemical Evolution of the Atmosphere and Oceans” 1984.)
    I am indebted to the late Professor Robert Carter for this summary.

    • And the pH scale was only invented in 1909 and the current definition of it in 1924, so there are NO measurements to prove that it has declined fom pre-industrial times.

      It’s “models all the way down”.

      Incidentally the CCD, the depth where carbonates start to dissolve in the oceans is 4200 to 5000 meters. The weird thing is that there are actually corals that live below the CCD, though they are not hermatypic, i. e. they don’t form reefs.

  10. “WHOI SCIENTIST ANNE COHEN (LEFT) AND MIT-WHOI JOINT PROGRAM STUDENT NATHAN MOLLICA EXTRACT CORE SAMPLES FROM A GIANT PORITES CORAL IN RISONG BAY, PALAU.”

    Maybe they should first take core samples of themselves to see how well the process works.

    (Just venting with a smile.)

    Stay safe and healthy, everybody.

    Bob

    • “they should first take core samples of themselves”

      We advance a hypothesis of brain calcification. Some others have proposed a sedimentation process.
      After all, it has often been observed that “That person must have rocks in their head.” Obviously true, however the rocks have to get there somehow.
      I agree, core samples would distinguish between the two proposed processes of cranial rock formation.
      Theory Guides, Experiment Decides.

    • They really are science illiterate, so vent warranted. The stupid in this one is so bad that it hurts. It’s like they passed chem 101 with a C- and never even heard of carbonate sedimentology.

      • Robert
        No, they are just following the advice in the Writer’s Guide to Successful Grant Applications. That is, use the key words that the grant reviewers are looking for to be sure that you are card carrying members of the alarmist guild. Others need not apply.

  11. “The authors found that ocean acidification caused a significant decline in Porites skeletal density in the Great Barrier Reef (13 percent) and the South China Sea (7 percent), starting around 1950. Conversely, they found no impact of ocean acidification on the same types of corals in the Phoenix Islands and central Pacific, where the protected reefs are not as impacted by pollution, overfishing, runoff from land.”

    So ocean “acidification” (sic) only occurs where there is overfishing, pollution, or runoff. Carbon dioxide is such a clever molecule, and knows where to dissolve in coral reefs.

  12. 1. There is no such thing as ocean “acidification”. The concepts reflect a lower than moderate knowledge of chemistry.

    2. Averages of pH are used.
    !!!!!!!!
    Do the authors know what is pH? Have they the slightest idea of what is an average of logarithms?

    • “Averages of pH are used.”

      My thought exactly, JMS. I’ve had more than one industrial problem where I have had to convert pHs to [H+] to do a real average. Also, the averages for the whole ocean are not germane, pHs are local and vary with weather, currents, biological activity and time of day. Failure to account for these factors makes the conclusions suspect.

  13. “a 13 percent decline in the skeletal density of Porites corals in the Great Barrier Reef… since 1950”

    That can’t be good.

    • It could mean they are growing faster without being eaten by those overfished fish, in the warmer sea with more plant food. I ran aquariums at a relatively well known university for 5 years, and we bubbled in CO2 to help the algae grow to feed the fish.

      So it could indeed be good.

    • Loydo said: ““a 13 percent decline in the skeletal density of Porites corals in the Great Barrier Reef… since 1950”
      That can’t be good.

      Not knowing if skeletal density in Porites varies naturally for example with age, depth of water or natural changes in water temperature, or their placement from the inshore to shelf-edge reef, or maybe some other unknown factor I couldn’t say if it was good or bad.

      ……. but your quote was missing some rather important information don’t you think?

      “The authors found that ocean acidification caused a significant decline in Porites skeletal density in the Great Barrier Reef (13 percent) and the South China Sea (7 percent), starting around 1950. CONVERSELY, they found no impact of ocean acidification on the same types of corals in the Phoenix Islands and central Pacific, where the protected reefs are not as impacted by pollution, overfishing, runoff from land.”

      Seems their OA hypothesis only works where there is pollution, overfishing, and runoff from land.

    • It also can’t be caused by CO2.
      Since it is only happening in places with heavy run-off. No run-off, no decline in skeletal density.

    • It makes sense that CO2 fertilization should causes the coral to grow quicker, thus reducing overall “density” they measure with their core samples…If one believes there is a general pH change against the rather large background noise.

    • Loydo
      I presume that you are assuming that a decline of any type is bad. If you had a Body Mass Index of 30 and went on an exercise program and reduced your BMI to 25, would you consider that bad? The other possibilities are that 1) a reduction of skeletal density is of no consequence, or that 2) there are survival advantages for a reduced density in warming waters. I suggest that you make a case for one of the three possibilities, rather than flippantly just assuming that any reduction is bad.

  14. I put some citric unalkaline in my kettle yesterday*.

    The coral formations rapidly disappeared.

    Have I got the hang of this Kemistry thing and can I have a grant for it?

    *Should that now read penultomorrow?

  15. “causing an average 0.1 unit decline in seawater pH since the pre-industrial era.”

    Utter BS.. they can’t measure ocean pH to that accuracy now,

    and they certainly couldn’t pre-industrial age.

    • No different than claiming knowledge of temperatures to the 1/100th in 1850 simply by doing averages!

      It sounds like university chemistry and biology labs have forgone any education in measurement uncertainty and significant digits. Probably more important to get answers from experiments that FEEL correct!

  16. Woods Hole has also been recently aligned with some people and organizations that want to end forestry. They have no clue. One of the honchos at Woods Hole is Bill Moomaw, a former enviro professor at Tufts. He detests all tree cutting and thinks if we end tree cutting- it’ll help save the Earth. Of course he lives in a HUGE wooden home in elite Williamstown, MA- the home of ultra elite Williams College.

  17. Once again scientists miss the real action by neglecting the solar influence.

    Solar irradiance affects coral reef growth positively via warming waters up to the bleaching threshold of about 30C, and negatively afterwards during Marine Heat Waves, when CO2 gets dissolved from coral skeletons enhancing local pCO2, then outgassed, adding to ML CO2.

    https://i.postimg.cc/YS8mC3Mn/GB-Reef-and-Marine-Heat-Waves.jpg

    https://i.postimg.cc/BbzTQCc9/TSI-and-Coral-Bleaching.jpg

    https://i.postimg.cc/jqnQZpsR/GB-Reef-Base-Growth-and-CO2-since-1600.jpg

    from my 2020 LASP Sun-Climate Symposium poster contribution.

  18. Did Watts do the pumice raft article? Mother Nature creates gigantic rafts of pumice which replenish reefs.

  19. strange how it is missing out the areas where the coral is in pristine condition- where man does not go or where pesticides aren’t used.

  20. Woods Hole, Racial Carson worked there. Look at how she started the Green movement and caused the death of millions by pushing for the ban on DDT.

    VK5ELL MJE

  21. “simultaneous warming ocean temperatures”

    Would that be the 0.01C temperature increase that they claim to have measured?

  22. “Roughly a third of global carbon dioxide emissions are absorbed by the ocean, causing an average 0.1 unit decline in seawater pH since the pre-industrial era.”

    The pH scale is log so every whole number is a power/factor of ten.

    By definition pH is the negative exponent of the hydrogen ion concentration.

    For instance, pH 9 is 10^-9 or 1 part per billion, 0.000000001.

    pH 8 is 10^-8 or 10 parts per billion, 0.000000010.

    To go from pH 9 to pH 8 is factor of 10 or 1,000%!!!! Makes 26% look trivial.

    Ocean “acidification” of pH 8.2 to pH 8.1, 0.1 unit, is an alkalinity change in H ions of 1 ppb.

    I’m fairly certain the ocean flora and fauna don’t even notice.

    • The diurnal variation in pH on a coral reef can be up to >1 pH unit as the coral zooxanthellae use up the CO2 during the day,

  23. Interesting observations that are subject to innumerable interpretations. They are combining old data of one sort with new data of a completely different sort and then feeding it all into a model. Naturally in the unscientific world of research we live in now the only interpretations they are interested in are the ones that convict humans of doing harm. As coral and the symbionts they host depend on photosynthesis, who is to say any changes they measured aren’t just improvements in the growth cycle due to higher photosynthetic potential in a world with more available CO2? If there really is lower calcification density maybe it reflects more vigorous growth. Calcification is not necessarily a virtue at any and all levels. The real story would be how are the corals doing over time. Enter Peter Ridd, a real scientist.

  24. High phosphate levels can contribute to nuisance algae growth AND weaken coral skeletons with the animals incorporate phosphates into the calcium carbonate matrix.

    Guess where both of these conditions occur? In areas with high runoff that contains excessive nutrients from agricultural fertilizers.

    Yeah, talk about missing the cause entirely. It’s almost as if they had a solution and needed a problem!

  25. Yes. It also is causing inflamation and thus coral arthritis of both types, rheumatoid and osteo. This, of course is quite painful for the corals, and if you listen carefully, you can hear them screaming. Greta, I’m told, is very good at hearing them scream.

    • The corals should try to include more dairy in their diet. That has been proven to slow down osterporosis.

  26. We are at geological historical low points for atmospheric CO2 and well within climatic moderate temperatures. So corals come and corals go? Do corals behave / evolve – even go extinct over long periods of time like all other life, or are they “special”?

  27. Travelling by small boat across the pacific, one quickly learns that coral atols often have an entrance on the leward side. But are completely solid on the windward side.

    This occurs because fresh water kills coral, and rain falling within the atol gets carried from the windward to leward side. Over time this process carves a path through the reef, allowing boats to enter and anchor in the calm waters within the atol. This is a big deal for the weary sailor.

    It is also a big deal for coral, because it means you must correct for coral sampled from the leward vs windward side of the reef.

    It also means that in areas where there are humans the coral will be affected by ground water pumping and salinity that has nothing to do with pollution or ocean pH.

  28. A question researchers should ask themselves is why the Great Barrier Reef does not extend to the shoreline. Rather it is many miles offshore from Australia, with a wide, coral free passage for ships between the shore and the reef.

    A simple question. Why does coral not grow on the Australian side of the Great Barrier Reef? This is nothing new. The process clearly has been going on for thousands of years. Was it a result of the aboriginals burning the forests every year? Can I get a grant to study this earth shattering discovery.

    • Corals never grow right up to the shoreline where there is tides. They avoid the intertidal zone since they can’t tolerate being exposed above water except very briefly. That is why fossil coral reefs are useful sea-level indicators. They grow up to just below low tide, but no higher.

      However you often find dead “reef-flats” at or just under sea-level, particularly in the central Pacific. Those corals grew in the Early Holocene when sea-levels were 1-2 meters higher.

  29. The press release dogmatically states “Animals that rely on calcium carbonate to create their skeletons, such as corals, are at risk as ocean pH continues to decline.” [Note: some calcifiers exploit calcium bicarbonate, which has an inverse relationship to calcium carbonate.]

    However, not all researchers see the situation as simplistically. For example, “… certain trace‐element abundances (e.g., Sr and Mg) vary in response to changes in water temperature. Traditionally, equilibrium thermodynamics has been invoked to explain these relationships … However, a detailed understanding of the biomineralization process is lacking and a critical question is the role of biological processes in controlling skeletal composition.
    https://agupubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1029/2006GL028657

    In general, calcifiers are able to control the pH at the crystal-growth face with the expenditure of energy. It appears that the optimal pH for calcifiers may be related to the predominant pH in the local environment at the time the organism evolved. However, they continue to survive in the face of a changing environment by expending energy to optimize the pH in the immediate vicinity of the polyp. Thus, they are able to tolerate a considerable daily and seasonal range in pH (much greater than the centennial change!) and still grow and survive.

  30. Why does such rubbish get funded? Why does it get published? It seems that saving the planet is incompatible with rational scientific thought.

    But then perhaps it is not surprising that ideological obsession and confirmation bias are incompatible with scientific objectivity.

  31. We really need to do something about this plate tectonics! All those undersea volcanoes, which emit CO2 into the deep cold ocean waters, under even more pressure than that can of soda in your icebox, which then gets distributed by deep ocean currents spreading that terrible acidity worldwide – how the oceans have survived all of this for millions of years is simply beyond belief!

    • And even more beyond belief is that the places where this cold, acid, polluted water upwells to the surface are the biologically richest spots in the oceans, and the main fishing areas.

    • Many of the complaints about historical measurements of pH at the NOAA site are fundamentally similar to problems with measuring historical sea surface temperatures (SST). That is to say, both sets of data, pH and SST, are problematic and have higher uncertainties than modern measurements. However, the older temperatures have not been rejected out of hand. Perhaps that is because they help make the case for warming. I’m cynical enough to suspect that if they didn’t allow warming to be claimed, they would similarly be rejected as being unreliable.

      Supporters of the claimed high precision of temperature data claim that they are allowed by the Law of Large Numbers to claim a precision proportional to the square-root of the number of observations. However, no one is similarly claiming such improvements in pH measurements. Why are the alarmists using different standards for different data sets?

      • “they are allowed by the Law of Large Numbers to claim a precision proportional to the square-root of the number of observations”

        That only applies to random errors of repeated measurements of the same expected value.

        It does not apply to systematic errors or measurements with different expected values (such as different temperatures).

        But then Climate Scientists have never been very good at statistics.

  32. People with salt water aquaria often add extra CO2 to the water to encourage corals to grow faster. It seems to me that aquaria would be a better place for this research, since there you can control other factors and vary only the CO2.

    But it would of course be less fun.

    • tty
      In 1970 I had a cold-saltwater, 15-gallon aquarium stocked with typical Pacific tide pool biota. It was stable and diverse for months — until I introduced a small octopus. Within a matter of weeks it became a sterile desert with only a monkey face eel in one corner under a rock, and the octopus in the opposite corner. A small perturbation can have a profound effect in an aquarium.

      • Octopi are the most advanced and smartest invertebrate predators in existence. Introducing one in an aquarium is not a “small perturbation”

  33. Don’t they know that the PH of the oceans around coral reefs varies on a daily basis. The Ph is usually higher in the morning and lower in the afternoon. But it is still in the 8’s therefore it is not acidifying . It’s time these”scientists’ stopped hanging around the oceans and playing on boats and got themselves real jobs.

  34. Same old question for the 1000th time.
    How did corals evolve in the Cambrian with 7000 ppm CO2 in the atmosphere?
    And yet now an increase from 400 ppm CO2 is going to give them “osteoporosis”?

    What is wrong with these people??

    And no. The dim sum won’t help them.

  35. Dumazzes … they should ask marine reef aquarium hobbyists about pH and coral growth and stop wasting their time with their ignorant pronouncements. My 500g ‘sps’ display maintains 7.9 pH and substantial coral growth. Low pH is a consequence of carbon dosing with vinegar for bacteria enhancement to aid water management.

  36. The authors state in essence the problems correlate better with runoff from the land than CO2. Maybe the authors should think about that more. But I suppose that doesn’t bring in government research money.

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