Climate change is having a huge impact on our oceans. As we emit more CO2 into our atmosphere, our oceans are taking the brunt of that burden, absorbing a large part of the heat generated by greenhouse gases, as well as CO2, which is acidifying the oceans.

We’ve all heard about the impact of climate change on coral reefs: the increased acidity in the water of the oceans is slowing the rate that corals can produce calcium carbonate, which corals need to grow. Excess heat in the oceans cause coral bleaching, the loss of algae that coral depend on.

Artist Courtney Mattison has created a series of three large-scale ceramic coral reef installations. Her third piece illustrates this process of bleaching. As the artist says, “Corals are so sensitive that the slightest change to the temperature or chemistry of the seawater that surrounds them can cause total devastation through coral bleaching, death and reef erosion…. At its heart, this piece celebrates my favorite aesthetic aspects of a healthy coral reef surrounded by the sterile white skeletons of bleached corals swirling like the rotating winds of a cyclone.”

The loss of our coral reefs is devastating. Coral reefs cover one tenth of one percent of the ocean floor, but provide habitat for a quarter of the world’s fish (National Geographic).