- Not Exactly Rocket Science
Corals survive acid oceans by switching to soft-bodied mode
Climate change is not just about surface warming and glacial melting. The carbon dioxide that human activity is pumping into the atmosphere also dissolves in the world’s oceans, slowly increasing their acidity over time. And that spells trouble for corals.
Corals may seem like immobile rock, but these hard fortresses are home to soft-bodied animals. These creatures – the coral polyps – build their mighty reefs of calcium carbonate using carbonate ions drawn from the surrounding water. But as the water’s pH levels fall, these ions become depleted and the corals start to run out of their chemical mortar. The upshot is that in acid water, corals find it hard to build their homes.
Scientists have predicted that if carbon dioxide levels