“Ken Caldeira loves a challenge, and he has a big one right under his feet. He’s standing on an expanse of coral reef out in Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. It’s being washed with water as the tide streams over the reef, from a lagoon to the open sea.
His big question centers on understanding how the carbon dioxide we add to the atmosphere is affecting coral reefs. The immediate — and logistically daunting — challenge is to measure how fast this bit of reef is growing. He and a team are preparing to pump a chemical solution across the reef that he hopes will give that growth a bit of a boost.
…There’s plenty at stake here. The oceans have become about 30 percent more acidic in the past 200 years because some of the carbon dioxide from our tailpipes, smokestacks and chimneys has dissolved in the sea. There’s some evidence that has slowed the growth of coral reefs. So Caldeira is adding an antacid to the water that flows over this reef, to see whether the corals will grow faster if their water supply is less acidic. His hypothesis is the reef will put on an extra ounce or two in these more favorable conditions.”
Read more at WBUR.