‘Warming water is one of the greatest threats facing the reef in the long term. But what about another consequence of rising carbon dioxide, ocean acidification?
‘When carbon dioxide dissolves in water it (slightly) increases the water’s acidity, or lowers its pH. This affects the ability of marine creatures such crustaceans, corals and coralline algae to build their skeletons. But exactly how it will affect the whole reef ecosystem is unknown.
‘In research published in Nature Communications, we mapped parts of the reef that are most exposed to ocean acidification. As you’d expect, there will be some regions more strongly affected than others, indicating where we might focus our efforts to preserve the reef.’