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SOURCE: Climate Central

DATE: May 3, 2016

AUTHOR: Brian Kahn

SNIP: It wasn’t supposed to happen this fast.

Some of the reefs around the Florida Keys are dissolving. They may have crossed a tipping point due to increasing ocean acidification, raising the alarm that climate change impacts in the ocean are continuing to happen at a much quicker pace than scientists previously suspected.

Rising carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere are making seas more acidic. That makes it harder for coral to build up their skeletons.

Scientists expected that the rising tide of acidic waters would cross a tipping point and start dissolving reefs by mid-century. But some of Florida’s reefs appear to be getting a head start, according to research published in Global Biogeochemical Cycles on Monday.

Scientists sampled seven sites across the 300-mile stretch of reefs stretching from Miami south to Key West. The findings show that the northern stretches of the reefs and their limestone bases are already dissolving.