Theme section on “Ocean Acidification and Coral Reefs”
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Much can change in 4 years. Ocean acidification, defined as the reduction of the pH of the world’s oceans, was ranked 36th of 40 potential threats to the future of coral reefs by reef scientists in 2004 (Kleypas and Eakin 2007). Since then, a substantial body of evidence has emerged showing that ocean acidification may have more profound implications for the future of coral reefs than previously thought (e.g., Orr et al. 2005; Raven et al. 2005; Hoegh-Guldberg et al. 2007), and some researchers now believe that the implications of ocean acidification for many marine species may ultimately be even greater than that of warming temperatures (Harley et al. 2006; Veron 2008a).
Mean atmospheric CO2 has ranged between 200 and 300 parts per million (ppm) in the past 650,000 years (and possibly in as much as 20 million years; Raven et al. 2005). However, it has now risen to ~387 ppm within ~100 years, predominantly due to the burning of fossil fuels and land clearing (Harley et al. 2006;...
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