Impacts of Ocean Warming and Acidification on Coral Reefs

For many decades, ecosystems in the world have experienced climate changes. These changes include sea levels rising, the increase of temperature, and widespread coral bleaching. Climate change is the change in temperature of our earth that is caused by human activity.

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One of these climate change catastrophes is ocean warming and acidification on coral reefs. Coral reefs are Anthozoa invertebrates of the phylum Cnidaria, made up of calcium carbonate skeletons. Coral reefs range from thousands of different species, making them a unique part of the marine world. Corals reef create symbiotic relationships with other organisms by providing shelter, food, and protection for several organisms even though they risk their own life. Corals are found in tropical islands, surrounded by clear waters which are susceptible to strong tropical storms (Hodgson et al. 560). It is best for coral reefs to be near the sand shore to receive sunlight to make photosynthesis. This allows corals to grow, as well as avoid strong water movements (Hodgson et al. 560). Coral reefs are rich with nutrients, which makes them a vital ecosystem. A vital ecosystem is a system that contains benefits to other environments. These benefits include ecological and economic benefits.

Some economic benefits are commercial fisheries, tourism, and protection of shorelines. Commercial fisheries examples reside in Hawaii, an island that benefits from coral reefs due to food security, primary and secondary consumers, and cultural practices. Hawaiian fisheries provide the land $10.3 to $16.4 million annually, which is then broken down into commercial sales (Grafeld et al. 2017). An ecological benefit with tourism industries resides in the Maldives. In the Maldives, tourism is highly attracted due to its beautiful beaches which contain coral reefs. At least one million tourists are received in the Maldives, which gives them an increase in gross domestic products annually. With ecological benefits, coral reefs produce final coral sand and protect shorelines from wave energy and erosion. (Reguero et al. 147).
The ocean acidification in coral reefs is caused by carbon dioxide that dissolves in water, products of human activity and release of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. PH levels are affected, which changes their environment since they require a certain amount of pH for the ecosystem to function. If the pH levels are not met, corals run out of zooxanthellae algae that provide oxygen (Manzello et al. 521). This affects the growth of coral reefs since too much of the pH levels in the water will cause a strong acidity, making the corals vulnerable to growth.

Carbon dioxide also causes ocean warming. Ocean warming negatively impacts coral reefs since heat pressure consumed by the coral reefs result in a release of the zooxanthellae algae (Carilli et al. 2012). When the algae is released, the color of the coral reef changes known as coral bleaching. If greenhouse gas effects were not associated with the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, the earth’s atmosphere would not accelerate global warming as it is today.

Most global warming issues can be avoided if every individual was determined to make a change. Some of the steps that we can contribute to saving our planet are to use LED light bulbs for our home, reduce the excessive amount of food containing meats, maintaining your car tires, and reduce the excessive use of water. These steps help our surrounding maintain healthy, as well as respect nature for what it is. Even though this may be difficult to always think about in our daily routines, small changes in behavior can make a huge difference during our lifetime. As for coral reefs, it is best to recycle and pick up trash during beach vacations so that we do not add more stress to their environment.  

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