Coral: Canary in the Coalmine

Reading nature's warning signs has never been so fun

Over the last few years, knowledge about the effects of rising heat and CO2 levels in the atmosphere on coral reefs, those bizarre, multicultural underwater gardens, has proliferated. One of the newest reports, published this past March, predicts that if atmospheric carbon levels reach double what they are now – 750 parts per million – coral reefs will start to grow so slowly that they won't keep themselves from dissolving.

Coral has already been dubbed a canary in a coalmine, due to its sensitivity to temperature and acidity, which make it a kind of first warning for the environmental changes wrought by rising global temperature and atmospheric carbon. We dive in to that canary-like sensitivity, and the complex life of a reef, in this new PopSci Comic.

Reef 101

Molika Ashford

Next: Coral (Up Close and Personal)

Coral: Up Close and Personal

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Next: Coral Needs Carbonate

Coral Needs Carbonate

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Next: Disappearing Reefs

Disappearing Reefs

Molika Ashford

Next: The Bright Side

Bright Side

Molika Ashford