22 Feb 2019

SPREP working to protect coral reefs from ocean acidification

4:45 pm on 22 February 2019

The Pacific environment agency SPREP is working to mitigate the effects of ocean acidification on coral reefs.

American Samoa coral

Photo: 123rf/ dam@seaphotoart.com

Dubbed 'Climate Change's Evil Twin', ocean acidification has increased by 30 percent since pre-industrial times.

A further 150 percent rise is expected by the end of the century if carbon emissions remain unchecked.

Increased acidity, or a lower pH level, destabilises and corrodes coral reefs.

Reefs that provide protection from storm surges and waves, as well as food for people and marine life.

SPREP's Duncan McIntosh said while the solution has to be dealt with globally by reducing carbon emissions, there are strategies which can be employed locally.

Dr Duncan said one is increasing the amount of mangroves and sea grasses.

"These are the plants that photosynthesise in the vicinity of a calcifying ecosystem like a coral reef. And in the process of photosynthesising these plants sequester some of the carbon that otherwise would be absorbed by the seawater and lower the pH."

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