Posted on February 25, 2015 by Bob Berwyn
Elkhorn coral in the Caribbean Sea. Photo via NOAA.
‘Our data show that climate change has helped drive down staghorn and elkhorn corals …’
FRISCO — Elkhorn and staghorn corals, once widespread across the Caribbean, have all but disappeared from the region, and scientists at the Florida Institute of Technology think they know why — ocean warming has been a big factor in the die-off, making the corals more susceptible to white-band disease.
“Our data show that climate change has helped drive down staghorn and elkhorn corals by boosting white-band disease,” said Florida Tech Ph.D. student Carly Randall. “We still don’t know if the disease is caused by a marine microbe, but now we do know that changes in the environment contributed to the problem.” Continue reading
Filed under: climate and weather, coral reefs, Environment, global warming | Tagged: Caribbean, coral reefs, elkhorn coral, global warming, staghorn coral, white-band disease | Leave a comment »
Posted on February 25, 2015 by Bob Berwyn
A satellite view of the Great Barrier Reef, via NOAA.
Plastic micro-pollution adds insult to injury for stressed coral reefs
FRISCO — Widespread micro-plastic pollution may take a toll on the famed Great Barrier Reef, scientists said this week after discovering that coral organisms will ingest the tiny plastic particles.
“Corals are non-selective feeders and our results show that they can consume microplastics when the plastics are present in seawater,” said Dr, Mia Hoogenboom, a researchers with the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University.
“If microplastic pollution increases on the Great Barrier Reef, corals could be negatively affected as their tiny stomach-cavities become full of indigestible plastic,” Hoogenboom added. Continue reading
Filed under: biodiversity, coral reefs, Environment | Tagged: coral reefs, Environment, micro-plastic pollution, oceans | 1 Comment »
Posted on February 24, 2015 by Bob Berwyn
Coral reefs near Panama stopped growing during an exstended phase of La Niña-like conditions in the Pacific Ocean. Photo courtesy NOAA.
‘It’s possible that anthropogenic climate change may once again be pushing these reefs towards another regional collapse …’
FRISCO — Past climate shifts resulting in La Niña-like conditions off the coast of Panamá resulted in a 2,500-year shutdown in coral reef growth, scientists said this week, warning that human-caused global warming could lead to similar conditions in the coming decades.
“We are in the midst of a major environmental change that will continue to stress corals over the coming decades, so the lesson from this study is that there are these systems such as coral reefs that are sensitive to environmental change and can go through this kind of wholesale collapse in response to these environmental changes,” said Kim Cobb, an associate professor in the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology. Continue reading
Filed under: biodiversity, climate and weather, climate change, coral reefs, Environment, global warming, ocean acidification | Tagged: climate change, coral reef decline, coral reefs, global warming, La Niña, Panama | Leave a comment »
Posted on February 18, 2015 by Bob Berwyn
NOAA scientists say warm oceans pose risk to reefs
Vast areas of the world’s oceans are so warm that coral reefs may take a big hit this year, according to the latest coral-bleaching outlook from NOAA.
Pink coral at Rose Atoll in National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa. Photo courtesy NOAA.
FRISCO — After reporting major coral-bleaching events in 2014, scientists with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration are warning that continued warm ocean temperatures are setting the stage for a repeat in 2015.
The warning is spelled out in the most recent outlook from NOAA’s Coral Reef Watch, a weekly product that forecasts the potential for coral bleaching up to four months in the future. Just last summer, the federal government put 20 coral types on the Endangered Species List, citing climate change as a major threat. Continue reading
Filed under: biodiversity, climate and weather, climate change, coral reefs, Environment, global warming | Tagged: climate change, coral reefs, global warming, NOAA, warm oceans | Leave a comment »
Posted on January 23, 2015 by Bob Berwyn
New study projects staggering coral losses as oceans warm
A school of surgeonfish cruise coral reefs in the Pacific. Photo courtesy NOAA.
*More Summit Voice reporting on coral reefs
FRISCO —Even under a moderate climate change scenario, with just 1 to 2 degrees Celsius warming, the Great Barrier Reef may be doomed to become just a shadow of itself within a few decades, researcher said this week, warning of the cumulative impacts of warmer water, acidification, pollution and over-fishing.
In the short term, the combined effects of those impacts enable seaweed to over-run corals, in effect suffocating them. In the longer term, interactions among reef organisms would lead to dominance by other groups, including sponges and soft corals known as gorgonians. Continue reading
Filed under: climate and weather, coral reefs, Environment, global warming, ocean acidification | Tagged: climate change, global warming, Great Barrier Reef, ocean acidification | Leave a comment »
Posted on January 14, 2015 by Bob Berwyn
Public comment sought on proposed standards
Dispersant being applied to the Gulf of Mexico.
FRISCO — When BP’s failed Deepwater Horizon drilling rig spewed millions of gallons of crude oil in the Gulf of Mexico nearly five years ago, the emergency response included the massive use of oil dispersants, chemicals meant to break up potential oil slicks before they reached the shoreline. Continue reading
Filed under: BP Gulf oil spill, coral reefs, energy, Environment | Tagged: Deepwater Horizon, dispersants, Environment, EPA, Gulf of Mexico, oil spills | 1 Comment »
Posted on January 4, 2015 by Bob Berwyn
Hawaii bleaching the worst on record
Coral reefs experienced major heat stress in 2014. Map courtesy NOAA Climate.gov – Dan Pisut.
FRISCO — Even without a surge of El Niño ocean heat, there was widespread coral bleaching across parts of the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean this past summer.
Reefs in the Florida Keys saw their worst bleaching episode since 1997-1999, when a major El Niño was followed by strong La Niña conditions, NOAA scientists reported recently. The surprising intensity of bleaching across multiple ocean basins in 2014 has scientists wondering what to expect in 2015, when El Niño is forecasted to finally develop. Continue reading
Filed under: climate and weather, climate change, coral reefs, Environment, global warming | Tagged: Coral bleaching, coral reefs, Environment, global warming, oceans | Leave a comment »