Abstract

Cold-water coral reefs have been neglected in calculations of global carbonate production. We present the first calculations of the amount of CaCO3 produced by cold-water corals on the Norwegian Shelf in postglacial time, showing that the reef-building Lophelia pertusa in Norwegian waters contributes ∼54–188 g/m2/ yr locally, or 0.03–0.38 g/m2/yr averaged over the entire shelf. These estimates indicate that cold-water reef CaCO3 flux is 4%– 12% of the tropical reefs. A first tentative global estimate indicates that cold-water coral CaCO3 production could add >1% to the total marine CaCO3 production. The spatial and temporal evolution of cold-water reefs, and thus their influence on atmospheric CO2, is difficult to reconstruct, but factors that dominantly influence the rate of coral growth include sea-level and oceanographic changes, submarine slides, and anthropogenic activity. The results show that other shelf and slope environments should be assessed in a similar manner to further constrain and evaluate the global CaCO3 production by cold-water corals and their possible contribution to the CaCO3 budget.

You do not currently have access to this article.