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The Role Of Climate Change In Coral Reef Destruction

2579 words - 10 pages

Climate change is arguably one of the most discussed issues in climatic conferences and political debates across the world. Establishment of the fact that global warming is the leading cause of climate change continues to persuade people to find out ways of reducing or mitigating the effects it has on the earth. Global warming occurs naturally, but artificial causes, which are mainly human activities, contribute to this effect. The release of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide from human activates has led to a 0.60C rise in global temperatures (Walther et al., 2002). This implies that different life forms are affected in one way or the other given the effect of temperature on life. Different species of flora and fauna have and continue to suffer the effect of climatic changes.

Coral reef is one of seawater features that have been affected by climatic changes. This has led to destruction through coral bleaching and increased mortality, especially due to the warming of the sea that causes an increase in sea water levels (Bakerl, Glynn & Riegl, 2008). An increase in global temperature also increases ocean acidification (Hoegh-Guldberg et al., 2007). These occurrences destroy reefs resulting in a significant drop in other sea organisms that depend on the reef. This implies that climatic changes are among the most destructive environmental elements affecting coral reef population in the world. To understand how climatic changes affect coral reef population, it is important to consider different ecological processes that occur due to climatic changes, the most common being the rise in global temperatures.

Results from Different Studies Investigating the Role of Climate Change in Coral Reef Destruction

Evidence of Sea Acidification and its Bleaching Effect on Coral Reefs
Research studies show that the volumes of carbon dioxide in the earth’s atmosphere are above 380ppm. This is 80ppm more than the maximum values in the last 740,000 years (Hoegh-Guldberg et al., 2007). This increase is said to raise global temperatures by an average of 0.740C while increasing the sea level by 17cm for every year. Levels of seawater carbonates have reduced approximately by 30µmol kg−1. Human activities commonly referred to as anthropogenic activities are responsible for the production of carbon dioxide that enters the ocean through different sources such as rainfall (Obura & Grimsditch, 2009). Carbon dioxide produces carbonic acids upon mixing with seawater. Carbonic acid dissociates to bicarbonate ions and protons, which increase the amount of bicarbonate when they react with carbonate ions. This reduces the amount of carbonates essential for various biological processes. Coral reef depends on a sufficient supply of carbonates, and a reduction in the same affects the populations negatively by inducing coral bleaching and mortality. The following graphs illustrates the process of acidification in the seawater.

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