Natural carbon dioxide seeps in Papua New Guinea have provided a glimpse into the future of coral reefs if atmospheric carbon dioxide levels continue to rise.
The increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere will result in increased ocean acidification. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predicts this will result in a decrease in pH level from 8.1 to 7.8 by 2100
“We found that as pH decreases the number and types of corals making up coral reefs are much reduced. Diversity of corals drops by 40%, and the reef becomes dominated by one form of corals, massive Porites,” says Australian Institute of Marine Science researcher Dr Katharina Fabricius.