The coral reefs are teeming with creatures that are susceptible to even the slightest changes in their environments. The effects of climate change are detrimental to the reefs. Climate change threatens coral reefs because of rising sea temperatures, ocean acidification, and sea level rise.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, global sea temperatures rose at an average rate of 0.13 degree Fahrenheit per decade from 1901 through 2012. This gradual increase is negative for coral health because the corals become stressed when they are exposed to higher water temperatures.

Ocean acidification takes place when the sea water absorbs carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. The presence of carbon dioxide in the water gives the water a lower pH, making it more acidic. When corals are exposed to acidic water they are unable to effectively absorb the calcium carbonate necessary for survival.

Sea level rise makes the water too deep for some corals to receive adequate sunlight. A change in just a fraction of an inch can stress coral.

In order to combat these problems, we need to make conscious decisions in our daily lives to limit our carbon footprint. Reefs are important because they reduce the impact of storms on shorelines, provide food and shelter for other marine creatures which we harvest, and provide recreation areas which boost tourism. Since corals are obviously struggling to combat the effects of climate change, it is our responsibility to help the reefs.

REBECCA DIPPEL

York City