Coral reefs cover only 1% of the ocean, but they’re essential for healthy ocean ecosystems, and for protecting us on land from damage from the impact of waves. According to a review by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, reefs in the US provide an estimated 1.75 billion dollars in ecosystem services, including protection from storm surges, fisheries, and employment from recreational use. However, coral reefs across the world are under threat of damage to their skeletons by ocean water that’s becoming more acidic due to increased atmospheric carbon dioxide.
Joining us on PNM to discuss some new findings on how corals build their skeletons is Dr. Pupa Gilbert, professor in the Department of Physics at UW-Madison. Her study on coral skeleton formation discussed in this interview is available at the Journal of the American Chemical Society. Dr. Gilbert and colleagues also have a new paper out this month proposing a model for the evolution of CaCO3 biomineralization across the animal tree of life. For further reading on other physics topics, Pupa also has a textbook “Physics in the arts”, which recently won a McGuffey Longevity award.
Image: Pupa Gilbert
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