NSERC-funded researcher Dr. Simon Donner, an assistant professor in the department of geography at the University of British Columbia, will be talking about the vulnerability of coral reefs to climate change due to higher ocean temperatures.
Dr. Donner studies coral bleaching. Corals get most of their energy from microscopic algae that live in their tissue. These algae are colourful and are what gives corals their vivid hue. When environmental factors go out of the range that corals are used to (such as warming water), the symbiosis between the coral and the algae breaks down and corals effectively expel the algae and turn white. The coral is then deprived of its source of energy, and dies.
Dr. Donner studies the frequency of coral bleaching events, their consequences and the link to unusually warm oceans. He says that mass coral bleaching events were thought to be extremely rare as far back as 30 years ago.
At the AAAS conference he will be talking about the predicted occurrence of bleaching events under different climate scenarios and, according to
Dr. Donner, it doesn't look good.
"Even if we froze emissions today, the planet still has some warming left in it. That's enough to make bleaching dangerously frequent in reefs worldwide," he says.
Given the hundreds of millions of people living in the tropics who depend on coral reefs for food, income, tourism and shoreline protection, the loss of reefs is a serious issue.
"Obviously, there's an aesthetic concern because people see Finding Nemo and they're worried about what's going to happen to the world's coral reefs, but the key thing is that there are hundreds of millions of people who depend on them for their livelihood," says Dr. Donner.
However, the outlook isn't completely bleak. Dr. Donner says that no one is predicting that coral reefs will go extinct; they will continue to survive, but only in certain habitats, such as shaded areas. The reality is a general loss of coral cover and a breakdown of the physical structure of reefs.
In order to see what the future of reefs might be, Dr. Donner is pursuing fieldwork in the central equatorial Pacific, because the islands and reefs in that area are affected by repeated El Nino events. Because of this, they've experienced higher year-to-year temperature variability than other areas on the planet. Dr. Donner is studying the corals in these areas to understand how the reefs are biologically different, and how that has allowed them to persist through warm water events that would kill coral in other areas of the planet.
"It's a natural model for the future," he says.
GPM sees deadly tornadic storms moving through US Southeast
01.12.2016 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center
Cyclic change within magma reservoirs significantly affects the explosivity of volcanic eruptions
30.11.2016 | Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.
The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...
Broadband rotational spectroscopy unravels structural reshaping of isolated molecules in the gas phase to accommodate water
In two recent publications in the Journal of Chemical Physics and in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, researchers around Melanie Schnell from the Max...
The efficiency of power electronic systems is not solely dependent on electrical efficiency but also on weight, for example, in mobile systems. When the weight of relevant components and devices in airplanes, for instance, is reduced, fuel savings can be achieved and correspondingly greenhouse gas emissions decreased. New materials and components based on gallium nitride (GaN) can help to reduce weight and increase the efficiency. With these new materials, power electronic switches can be operated at higher switching frequency, resulting in higher power density and lower material costs.
Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE together with partners have investigated how these materials can be used to make power...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
02.12.2016 | Medical Engineering
02.12.2016 | Agricultural and Forestry Science
02.12.2016 | Physics and Astronomy