CO2 MAN-MADE EMISSIONS & CARBON CAPTURE BY CORALS

EVERY YEAR CORALS SINK-CAPTURE-SEQUESTER MORE CO2 THAN IS PRODUCED BY MAN-MADE EMISSIONS

According to the estimations published by the UNEP-WCMC in 2001 and known as the WORLD ATLAS OF CORAL REEFS, still considered today as the best reference scientific study on the abundance, oceanic extension and management of world-wide coral reefs, the tropical reefs total surface (up to 150 meters depth) is of 284,300 square kilometers (109,800 sq mi).

Assuming an average growth of 10 centimeters a year, -as indicated in this same Report-, those corals will grow:

284,300 x 106 m2 = 284.3 x 109 m2 a year, adding a new volume of 28.43 x 109 m3/year, that is:

28.43 billion cubic meters per year

Since most of the coral mass is made of calcium carbonate skeletons (with an overall 1.8 density) that growth is equivalent to about 51 billion tons of carbonate a year and given that 44% of it is CO2 it represents about

22 billion tons of CO2 a year

THAT IS 3 TIMES THE ESTIMATED MAN-MADE FLUX OF 7 BILLION TONS CO2/YEAR

But on TOP OF THAT must consider that:

1 . The authors of the WORLD ATLAS OF CORAL REEFS clearly state that their figures might be 10 times smaller than those calculated by other researchers.

  1. The surface area of the Australian Great Barrier Reef is 334,000 square kilometers a figure that is difficult to cope with the Australian total reef area of 48,960 square kilometers stated in the WORLD ATLAS.
  2. The WORLD ATLAS report also assigns 14,000 square kilometers of coral reefs to the 438,000 square kilometers of the Red Sea (about 3% of the area), a figure that seems to small as in the case of Australia.
  3. Corals are also found in many non-tropical seas where they form either small reefs or just colonies of a few square kilometers. Those coral colonies are well-known, studied and located in the Mediterranean Sea where they have been “mined” for centuries to obtain semi-precious stones like red-corals.
  4. COLD CORALS are found at great depths everywhere in oceanic cold waters as for instance in the coast of Oregon and Washington in the US or the Hebrides Islands in UK.

Based in the above considerations it is seems obvious that

 CORAL REEFS SINK-ABSORB-SEQUESTER-CAPTURE MANY TIMES THE TOTALITY OF MAN-MADE CO2 EMISSIONS

Veron 1986 Image

from http://coral.biota.biodiv.tw/book/export/html/403

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