The exposure of the Great Barrier Reef to ocean acidification

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Citation:
Nature Communications, 2016, 7
Issue Date:
2016-02-23
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© 2016, Nature Publishing Group. All rights reserved. The Great Barrier Reef (GBR) is founded on reef-building corals. Corals build their exoskeleton with aragonite, but ocean acidification is lowering the aragonite saturation state of seawater (Ωa). The downscaling of ocean acidification projections from global to GBR scales requires the set of regional drivers controlling Ωato be resolved. Here we use a regional coupled circulation-biogeochemical model and observations to estimate the Ωaexperienced by the 3,581 reefs of the GBR, and to apportion the contributions of the hydrological cycle, regional hydrodynamics and metabolism on Ωavariability. We find more detail, and a greater range (1.43), than previously compiled coarse maps of Ωaof the region (0.4), or in observations (1.0). Most of the variability in Ωais due to processes upstream of the reef in question. As a result, future decline in Ωais likely to be steeper on the GBR than currently projected by the IPCC assessment report.
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