Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

CT scans of coral skeletons reveal ocean acidity increases reef erosion

25.11.2014

Coral reefs persist in a balance between reef construction and reef breakdown. As corals grow, they construct the complex calcium carbonate framework that provides habitat for fish and other reef organisms.

Simultaneously, bioeroders, such as parrotfish and boring marine worms, breakdown the reef structure into rubble and the sand that nourishes our beaches. For reefs to persist, rates of reef construction must exceed reef breakdown.


This is an image of µCT scan showing the outside (top) and inside (bottom) of an experimental coral block after a one-year deployment in Kāne'ohe Bay, Hawai'i. Note the bioerosion scars inside the block.

Credit: Nyssa Silbiger at UH Mānoa and Mark Riccio at the Cornell Unversity µCT Facility for Imaging and Preclinical Research

This balance is threatened by increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide, which causes ocean acidification (decreasing ocean pH). Prior research has largely focused on the negative impacts of ocean acidification on reef growth, but new research this week from scientists at the Hawai'i Institute of Marine Biology (HIMB), based at the University of Hawai'i - Mānoa (UHM), demonstrates that lower ocean pH also enhances reef breakdown: a double-whammy for coral reefs in a changing climate.

To measure bioerosion, researchers deployed small blocks of calcium carbonate (dead coral skeleton) onto the reef for one year. Traditionally, these blocks are weighed before and after deployment on the reef; however, HIMB scientists used microCT (a high-resolution CT scan) to create before and after 3-D images of each block. According to Nyssa Silbiger, lead author of the study and doctoral candidate at HIMB, this novel technique provides a more accurate measurement of accretion and erosion rates.

The researchers placed the bioerosion blocks along a 100-ft transect on shallow coral reef in Kāne'ohe Bay, Hawai'i, taking advantage of natural variability of pH in coastal reefs. The study compared the influence of pH, resource availability, temperature, distance from shore, and depth on accretion-erosion balance. Among all measured variables, pH was the strongest predictor of accretion-erosion. Reefs shifted towards higher rates of erosion in more acidic water - a condition that will become increasingly common over the next century of climate change.

This study also highlights the impact of fine-scale variation in coastal ocean chemistry on coral reefs. Current models from the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) predict changes in pH for the open ocean, but these predictions are problematic for coral reefs, which are embedded in highly variable coastal ecosystems. The study found dramatic differences in ocean pH and in the daily variability of pH across a short distance.

"It was surprising to discover that small-scale changes in the environment can influence ecosystem-level reef processes," said Silbiger. "We saw changes in pH on the order of meters and those small pH changes drove the patterns in reef accretion-erosion."

Silbiger and colleagues are learning all they can from the microCT scans, as this is the first time before-and-after microCT scans were used as a measure of accretion-erosion on coral reefs. In ongoing work, they are using this technology to distinguish between accretion and erosion and to single out erosion scars from specific bioeroder groups (e.g., holes from boring worms versus bioeroding sponges). The researchers are also using this technology to investigate the drivers of the accretion-erosion balance over the much larger area of the Hawaiian Archipelago.

NJ Silbiger, O Guadoyal, FIM Thomas, MJ Donahue (2014) Reefs shift from net accretion to net erosion along a natural environmental gradient. Marine Ecology Progress Series, vol. 515, doi: 10.3354/meps10999

The School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology at the University of Hawaii at Manoa was established by the Board of Regents of the University of Hawai'i in 1988 in recognition of the need to realign and further strengthen the excellent education and research resources available within the University. SOEST brings together four academic departments, three research institutes, several federal cooperative programs, and support facilities of the highest quality in the nation to meet challenges in the ocean, earth and planetary sciences and technologies.

Marcie Grabowski | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.hawaii.edu

Further reports about: CT scans HIMB Marine coral reefs microCT scans ocean acidification ocean acidity ocean pH scans skeletons

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Upcycling 'fast fashion' to reduce waste and pollution
03.04.2017 | American Chemical Society

nachricht Litter is present throughout the world’s oceans: 1,220 species affected
27.03.2017 | Alfred-Wegener-Institut, Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar- und Meeresforschung

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

7th International Conference on Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaics in Freiburg on April 3-5, 2017

03.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

DGIST develops 20 times faster biosensor

24.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Nanoimprinted hyperlens array: Paving the way for practical super-resolution imaging

24.04.2017 | Materials Sciences

Atomic-level motion may drive bacteria's ability to evade immune system defenses

24.04.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>