Ocean Acidification and the Reef Metabolic Index

As a consequence of ocean acidification from increasing atmospheric CO2, coral reefs may suffer reduced calcification rates.

The Reef Metabolic Index (RMI) couples remote sensing and in situ observations of carbon dioxide partial pressure (pCO2) to monitor changes in reef community structure. The RMI is calculated as the difference between the modeled offshore pCO2 and the pCO2 measured in situ on the reef.

A pilot study is underway in the Caribbean, using CO2 measurements from the Explorer of the Seas and in situ pCO2 from a NOAA station in Puerto Rico.

Meanwhile, a suite of Coral Reef Watch experimental monthly ocean acidification products, including aragonite saturation state and pCO2,sw, was developed and is available on our website through the following link. It offers an important synthesis of satellite and modeled environmental datasets to provide a synoptic estimate of sea surface carbonate chemistry in the Greater Caribbean Region. Detailed description of the products is provided there.

Coral Reef Watch Ocean Acidification Product Suite

For more information:
University of Miami research aboard the Explorer of the Seas
NOAA's Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory (AOML)
NOAA's Integrated Coral Observing Network (ICON)