Over the past ten years, a great deal of scientific attention has been paid to how increased CO2 concentration in the atmosphere contributes to increased acidification of the oceans and a reduction in ocean pH (Doney et al. 2009). Recently, major meta-analyses showed that acidification conditions that are likely to exist by the year 2100 have negative effects on many marine species (Kroeker et al. 2010). Studies like these on effects of pH on ocean species are an important part of future climate change research. However, nearly ignored so far is the flip side of this coin the effects that ocean species can have on the pH of their environment.
Marine organisms can have a strong effect on the pH of their environment through respiration and photosynthesis. Through study of back reefs in American Samoa, which show variable degrees of bio-alkalinizaiton this project will look at the impact of biological and physical processes on ocean acidification and evaluate the potential of other reef sites to show similar patterns and test whether bio-alkalinization may play a pivotal role in the future of coral reefs.