Caldeira Lab

Community Calcification in Lizard Island, Great Barrier Reef: A 33 year perspective

Jacob Silverman, Kenneth Schneider, David Kline, Tanya Rivlin, Asaph Rivlin, Sarah Hamylton, Boaz Lazar, Jonathan Erez & Ken Caldeira

Silverman, J., K. Schneider, D.I. Kline, T. Rivlin, A. Rivlin, S. Hamylton, B. Lazar, J. Erez and K Caldeira, Community Calcification in Lizard Island, Great Barrier Reef: A 33 year perspective, 2014: Geochim. Cosmochim. Acta., doi 10.1016/j.gca.2014.09.011.



Measurements of community calcification (Gnet) were made during September 2008 and October 2009 on a reef flat in Lizard Island, Great Barrier Reef, Australia, 33 years after the first measurements were made there by the LIMER expedition in 1975. In 2008 and 2009 we measured Gnet = 61 ± 12 and 54 ± 13 mmol CaCO3·m-2·day-1, respectively. These rates are 27%-49% lower than those measured during the same season in 1975-76. These rates agree well with those estimated from the measured temperature and degree of aragonite saturation using a reef calcification rate equation developed from observations in a Red Sea coral reef. Community structure surveys across the Lizard Island reef flat during our study using the same methods employed in 1978 showed that live coral coverage had not changed significantly (∼ 8%). However, it should be noted that the uncertainty in the live coral coverage estimates in this study and in 1978 were fairly large and inherent to this methodology. Using the reef calcification rate equation while assuming that seawater above the reef was at equilibrium with atmospheric PCO2 and given that live coral cover had not changed Gnet should have declined by 30±8% since the LIMER study as indeed observed. We note, however, that the error in estimated Gnet decrease relative to the 1970’s could be much larger due to the uncertainties in the coral coverage measurements. Nonetheless, The similarity between the predicted and the measured decrease in Gnet suggests that ocean acidification may be the primary cause for the lower CaCO3 precipitation rate on the Lizard Island reef flat.






Net calcification measured in 2008 and 2009, compared with measurements made in 1975 (Silverman et al., 2014).







Ken Caldeira would like to thank Jonathan Erez for coming up with the idea for this research, and the team at Hebrew University for the key role they played in making this project a success.