Marine protected areas and ocean acidification
Rising atmospheric CO2 emissions are causing an increase in the acidity of the ocean, as more of this CO2 is dissolved in seawater to form carbonic acid. During this century, it is highly likely that UK waters, ecosystems and habitats will be significantly impacted as CO2 emissions continue to rise.
Cold water coral reefs
By 2060, over 85% of known cold water coral reefs in UK waters could be exposed to waters that are corrosive to them (as a result of under-saturation of aragonite). Seven marine protected areas are designated for the protection of cold water corals (see map).
The East Mingulay Special Area of Conservation (6) may be one of the few places where cold water corals are still in non-corrosive waters by 2099.
Cold-water coral reef © Crown Copyright, all rights reserved.
This photograph was produced as part of the UK Department of Trade and Industry’s offshore energy Strategic Environmental Assessment programme. The SEA programme is funded and managed by the DTI and coordinated on their behalf by Geotek Ltd and Hartley Anderson Ltd. Survey of areas of potential reef was funded by Defra and managed on Defra’s behalf by JNCC to provide information to support the implementation of the EU Habitats Directive in UK offshore waters.
The year aragonite is estimated to be undersaturated under a “business as usual” emission scenario.
Reproduced with permission from Jackson et al. (2014) Future-proofing marine protected area networks for cold water coral reefs. ICES Journal of Marine Science. doi:10.1093/icesjms/fsu099
Marine Protected Areas for cold water coral reefs:
- Hatton Bank SAC
- North West Rockall Bank SAC
- East Rockall Bank SAC
- Anton Dohrn SAC
- Darwin Mounds SAC
- East Mingulay SAC
- Canyons MCZ