Global warming to increase size, strength of coral reefs

by William Yeatman on July 6, 2004

in Science

An overlooked study suggests that evidence from the Great Barrier Reef in Australia points to corals being strengthened, not weakened, by rising temperatures.

The study directly contradicts earlier findings by Kleypas et al. (1999) that received considerable media attention for its conclusion that the rising CO2 content of the Earths atmosphere would lower the saturation state of the carbonate mineral aragonite in the surface waters of the worlds oceans and lead to weaker, more fragile, and slower growing coral reefs.

The Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change (, however, has drawn attention to a study by Lough and Barnes, published in 2000 in the Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology, that assembled and analyzed the calcification characteristics of 245 similar-sized corals of Australias Great Barrier Reef. It found that increasing CO2 would increase, not decrease, the calcification of coral reefs. Their study notes that, “This increase of ~4% in calcification rate conflicts with the estimated decrease in coral calcification rate of 6-14% over the same time period suggested by Kleypas et al. (1999) as a response to changes in ocean chemistry.”

The Center comments, “In light of these real-world empirical-based calculations, and in stark contrast to the doom-and-gloom prognostications of the world’s climate alarmists, Lough and Barnes thus conclude that coral calcification rates may have already significantly increased along the GBR in response to global climate change.  And they are likely to increase even more, we would add, if the air’s CO2 content and temperature continue to rise in the years ahead.”

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