Key Idea About one quarter of the carbon dioxide emitted each year from human activities is absorbed by the oceans. As the extra carbon dioxide reacts with sea water, it causes the ocean to become slightly more acidic. This impacts the growth of corals and other organisms that make their skeletons from carbonate minerals. These species are critical to the balance of tropical reef ecosystems. Data show that since the 18th century the level of ocean acidification has been slowly increasing in the FSM waters.

All projections indicate that the acidity level of sea waters in the FSM will continue to increase over the 21st century. The impact of increased acidification on the health of reef ecosystems is likely to be made worse by other stresses on the reefs including coral bleaching, storm damage and fishing pressure.

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