Since the Industrial Revolution (1750-1850), the oceans have absorbed a substantial proportion of the carbon dioxide released to the atmosphere from human activities, including the burning of fossil fuels, deforestation, and land-use changes. As a result, the acid-base balance of the ocean has changed, resulting in an increased level of acidity (i.e., the concentration of the hydrogen ion, or [H+]) in surface seawater. Because many biological and chemical processes are dependent on the acid-base balance in seawater, ocean acidification could have drastic consequences to the success, function, and role of marine organisms and ecosystems.
The BErmuda Ocean Acidification and COral Reef INvestigation (BEACON) program aims to improve our understanding of the potential consequences of ocean acidification on coral reef ecosystems, including effects on individual marine organisms, biogeochemical processes, and the cycling of carbon through coral reefs. Since 2010 the BEACON program has used data from the Bermuda Atlantic Time-series Study (BATS), as well as two NOAA CO2 moorings, to investigate a broad range of topics including:
- Calcium carbonate mineral dissolution and sediment composition;
- Morphological changes in coral skeletons due to ocean acidification;
- Impacts of seawater saturation state on calcification in new coral recruits;
- The relationship between carbonate chemistry and coral reef calcification
- Air-ocean CO2 fluxes in the North and Western Atlantic Ocean
BEACON Data Access
Working with NOAA's Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory (PMEL), BIOS is part of a global network of carbon dioxide time-series observations. There are two NOAA CO2 moorings in Bermuda, both of which provide data for plots of surface water and atmospheric CO2: one at Hog Reef (32.46N, 64,84W) and the other at Crescent Reef (32.40N, 64.79W).
Click here to learn more about why BEACON is situated in Bermuda.