Projections for Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean can help resource managers
While research shows that nearly all coral reef locations in the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico will experience bleaching by mid-century, a new study showing in detail when and where bleaching will occur shows great variety in the timing and location of these harmful effects.
The new research published today in Global Change Biology by NOAA scientists and colleagues provides the first fine-scale projections of coral bleaching, an important planning tool for managers.
"Our new local-scale projections will help resource managers better understand and plan for the effects of coral bleaching," said lead author Ruben van Hooidonk, a coral and climate researcher with the Cooperative Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Studies at the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School and NOAA's Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory.
"At some locations, referred to in our study as 'relative refugia,' lower rates of temperature increase and fewer extreme events mean reefs have more time to adapt to climate change," he said. "Managers may decide to use this information to protect these locations as refuges or protected areas. Or they may take other actions to reduce stress caused by human activities."
Coral bleaching, which is primarily caused by warming ocean temperatures, is a major threat to our ocean's health. When water is too warm corals expel the algae living in their tissue, causing the coral to lose its vibrant colors and turn completely white. Bleached corals are under more stress and are more likely to die. Extensive coral bleaching events have increased in frequency and severity over the past two decades due to climate change.
The loss of coral reefs can have economic, social and ecological effects. Coral reefs provide rich habitat for valuable fisheries that people depend on for food. They serve as protective buffers to coastlines by absorbing wave energy from storms, and they boost local economies by attracting tourists who fish, dive and explore these underwater treasures.
The new bleaching projections build upon a previous study that used global climate models from the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to produce projections at a very coarse resolution of about 68 miles or 110 kilometers. By using a regional ocean model and an approach called statistical downscaling, scientists calculated the onset of annual severe bleaching at a much higher resolution - 6 miles or 10 kilometers. The resulting local-scale projections of bleaching conditions will help managers include climate change as a consideration in planning and conservation decisions.
There are regions within many countries where some reefs are projected to experience annual bleaching conditions 15 or more years later than neighboring regions. This applies to reefs in Florida, the Bahamas, Cuba, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Turks and Caicos, and Mexico. Reefs projected to experience bleaching conditions later can be conservation priorities.
Scientists also compared the two approaches they used to produce the high-resolution projections and found that both methods produced similar results. This gives the team confidence that the more cost-effective and less labor-intensive statistical downscaling approach could be applied for all of the world's coral reefs, which the team plans to undertake over the coming year.
Bob Glazer of Florida's Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said he welcomed the new research. "Coral bleaching poses a grave threat to coral reefs and these high-resolution projections provide vitally needed spatial information about the degree of threat and will help us make better management decisions."
NOAA's Reef Manager's Guide, which provides information on the causes and consequences of coral bleaching, outlines some of the management strategies and tools that can help reef managers address the coral bleaching threat. Find out more at http://www.
This study was funded by NOAA's Coral Reef Conservation Program and supported by NOAA AOML. The article has been published Open Access ensuring everyone interested can review the local-scale projections of bleaching conditions.
The paper, "Downscaled projections of Caribbean coral bleaching that can inform conservation planning," can be read online at: http://onlinelibrary.
Monica Allen | EurekAlert!
The melting ice makes the sea around Greenland less saline
16.10.2017 | Aarhus University
WSU researchers document one of planet's largest volcanic eruptions
12.10.2017 | Washington State University
Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).
When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...
Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.
How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...
Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.
It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...
It's possible to produce hydrogen to power fuel cells by extracting the gas from seawater, but the electricity required to do it makes the process costly. UCF...
Mercury, our smallest planetary neighbor, has very little to call an atmosphere, but it does have a strange weather pattern: morning micro-meteor showers.
Recent modeling along with previously published results from NASA's MESSENGER spacecraft -- short for Mercury Surface, Space Environment, Geochemistry and...
10.10.2017 | Event News
10.10.2017 | Event News
28.09.2017 | Event News
16.10.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
16.10.2017 | Earth Sciences
16.10.2017 | Physics and Astronomy