UH study: acidification breaking down coral reefs

Published: Dec. 1, 2014 at 12:50 PM HST
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HONOLULU (AP) - A University of Hawaii study has concluded that increasingly acidic ocean water is presenting a "double whammy" for coral reefs.

Scientists with the Institute of Marine Biology say increasing acidity not only hampers growth of coral reefs, it contributes to their breakdown.

High carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere increases acidity in ocean water.

The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reports researchers set out blocks of dead coral skeleton along shallow coral reef in Kaneohe Bay to measure erosion for a year.

Previous studies weighed blocks afterward. Researchers in the latest study used a high-resolution CT scan and three-dimensional images for a more accurate measure of erosion.

Lead author Nyssa Silbiger in a statement says it was surprising to discover that small-scale environmental changes can influence ecosystem-level reef processes.

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