That’s one of the findings from a new scientific study of the fate of corals in the wake of large climate-driven bleaching and storm events.
“We have found clear evidence that coral recruitment – the regrowth of young corals – drops sharply in the wake of a major bleaching event or a hurricane,” says lead author Dr Jennie Mallela of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies and Australian National University.
Using the island of Tobago in the Caribbean as their laboratory she and colleague Professor James Crabbe of the University of Bedfordshire, UK, backtracked to 1980 to see what had happened to the corals in the wake of nine hurricanes, tropical storms and bleaching events.
“In every case there was a sharp drop in coral recruitment following the event – often by as much as two thirds to three quarters. Not only were fewer new coral colonies formed, but also far fewer of the major reef building coral species recruited successfully.”
“This finding mirrors our modelling studies on the fringing reefs of Jamaica, and on the Meso-American Barrier reef off the coast of Belize”, says Prof. Crabbe.
Tobago lies outside the main Caribbean hurricane belt and therefore is more typical of the circumstances of most coral reefs around the world. Nevertheless its corals are disrupted by a major storm or bleaching every three or four years – and the frequency of this may be growing.
“Climate researchers are seeing increasing evidence for a direct relationship between global warming and rising hurricane intensity as well as frequency,” Jennie explains. “Global warming produces significant increases in the frequency of high sea surface temperatures (SSTs), and hurricane winds are strengthened by warm surface waters.”
The high temperatures cause bleaching, while the storms inflict physical destruction on the corals as well as eroding the rocky platforms they need to grow on, or burying them in sand.
“Maintaining coral reef populations in the face of large-scale degradation depends critically on recruitment – the ability of the corals to breed successfully and settle on the reef to form new colonies. Our research suggests this process is severely disrupted after one of these major events.”
If the disruption is sufficiently large it may threaten the actual survival of some of the larger and more spectacular reef building and brain corals, she says. “In the aftermath of a big storm or bleaching event, some of these important species appear not to have recruited at all.
“Healthy reefs usually have high numbers of coral recruits and juvenile corals, whereas degraded systems typically have far fewer young colonies.”
The concern is that if major storms and bleaching become more frequent as the climate warms, the ability of individual reefs to renew themselves may break down completely, Jennie says.
“While our work was carried out in the Caribbean, it has general implications for coral reefs globally, and deepens our concern as to what may happen to them as global warming advances and the world’s climate becomes more tempestuous.”
The research paper is Mallela, J., Crabbe, M.J.C., Hurricanes and coral bleaching linked to changes in coral recruitment in Tobago, and is published in the latest issue of Marine Environmental Research (2009).More information:
Jennie Mallela | EurekAlert!
Dispersal of Fish Eggs by Water Birds – Just a Myth?
19.02.2018 | Universität Basel
Removing fossil fuel subsidies will not reduce CO2 emissions as much as hoped
08.02.2018 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)
So-called quantum many-body scars allow quantum systems to stay out of equilibrium much longer, explaining experiment | Study published in Nature Physics
Recently, researchers from Harvard and MIT succeeded in trapping a record 53 atoms and individually controlling their quantum state, realizing what is called a...
The historic first detection of gravitational waves from colliding black holes far outside our galaxy opened a new window to understanding the universe. A...
A team led by Austrian experimental physicist Rainer Blatt has succeeded in characterizing the quantum entanglement of two spatially separated atoms by observing their light emission. This fundamental demonstration could lead to the development of highly sensitive optical gradiometers for the precise measurement of the gravitational field or the earth's magnetic field.
The age of quantum technology has long been heralded. Decades of research into the quantum world have led to the development of methods that make it possible...
Cardiovascular tissue engineering aims to treat heart disease with prostheses that grow and regenerate. Now, researchers from the University of Zurich, the Technical University Eindhoven and the Charité Berlin have successfully implanted regenerative heart valves, designed with the aid of computer simulations, into sheep for the first time.
Producing living tissue or organs based on human cells is one of the main research fields in regenerative medicine. Tissue engineering, which involves growing...
A team of scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg investigated optically-induced superconductivity in the alkali-doped fulleride K3C60under high external pressures. This study allowed, on one hand, to uniquely assess the nature of the transient state as a superconducting phase. In addition, it unveiled the possibility to induce superconductivity in K3C60 at temperatures far above the -170 degrees Celsius hypothesized previously, and rather all the way to room temperature. The paper by Cantaluppi et al has been published in Nature Physics.
Unlike ordinary metals, superconductors have the unique capability of transporting electrical currents without any loss. Nowadays, their technological...
02.05.2018 | Event News
13.04.2018 | Event News
12.04.2018 | Event News
18.05.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering
18.05.2018 | Information Technology
18.05.2018 | Information Technology