Climate Change : The Effects Of Climate Change On Coral Reefs

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Effects of Climate Change
The effects of climate change on coral reefs stem from the increase in carbon dioxide and the increase in atmospheric temperature. These two factors have the most drastic impact on the coral reefs and their ecosoytems surrounding. The first major effect of climate change is ocean acidification.
The ocean’s pH has a direct negative correlation to the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. As the carbon dioxide increases in the atmosphere, the ocean’s pH drops. The average pH shift is 0.1 in the past 200 years (Cooley et al., 2015). That number may seem insignificant, however, on a scale of 1 to 14, it is much more influential to the environment. Predictions from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA, 2017) show a more negative impact with an decrease of up to 30% in pH and increase in ocean’s acidity in the upcoming century. This increase in acidity has destructive impacts on the coral reefs themselves and the biological impacts on species of shellfish and pteropods. Just as humans need calcium to maintain a strong skeleton, organisms such as coral, pteropods, and various species of shellfish including mollusks, starfish and sea urchins need calcium carbonate to preserve a strong shell used for shelter and protection. The calcium carbonate deteriorates with an increase in acidity. It makes the shells and skeletons brittle and compromises fertilization and settlement of new coral and pteropods as well. The decrease in the

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