“Increasing evidence now shows that storms are becoming more intense due to climate change,” said lead author and Earthwatch scientist Professor James Crabbe from the University of Bedfordshire. Coral reefs — which can grow to be thousands of years old — form and grow when free-swimming coral larvae in the ocean attach to rocks or other hard surfaces and begin to develop. Intense storms can wipe out this recruitment process.
“Storms therefore threaten the survival of the entire reef itself,” said Crabbe, who found similar results in another Earthwatch-supported study in Jamaica a few years ago. The new study will appear in the May issue of Marine Environmental Research.
“If the storms don’t destroy corals outright, they render them more susceptible to disease and that is certainly apparent on the Belize reefs,” said Crabbe, who is doing a lecture tour related to this work throughout 2008, deemed International Year of the Reef by the International Coral Reef Initiative (ICRI).
The study holds implications for marine park managers. Crabbe explains, “They may need to assist coral recruitment and settlement [in hurricane years] by establishing coral nurseries and then placing larvae in the reef at discrete locations or by setting up artificial reef blocks to help the corals survive.”
Crabbe conducted the research in 2006 and 2007 with Edwin Martinez, Earthwatch Field Director in Belize and co-author, with help from young local scientists and Earthwatch volunteers.
The team measured the size of more than 520 non-branching coral mounds in two major coral reef areas in southern Belize: the Sapodilla Cayes Marine Reserve, a world heritage site, and the Port Honduras Marine Reserve. In addition to providing habitat for an array of marine life, corals buffer coastal zones from erosive wave energy.
Crabbe’s team determined the surface area covered by the corals and entered the growth rates of the corals into a computer model to determine when in history the coral colonies first settled. They compared that with hurricane and storm data and as predicted, coral recruitment was much lower during storm years.“The rapid growth of the tourism industry in Belize over the past five years tops the list of threats to the corals and agricultural runoff is a close second”, explains Martinez. “This study makes it clear that climate change is moving quickly up the list.”
•Earthwatch Institute (Europe) is an international environmental organisation whose mission is to engage people worldwide in scientific field research and education to promote the understanding and action necessary for a sustainable environment.
•Earthwatch Institute (Europe) is the European affiliate of Earthwatch Institute, which is based in the USA and founded in Boston in 1971. Other affiliate offices in the Earthwatch Institute network are based in Australia and Japan.
•Earthwatch makes research grants of over £3 million in support of around 130 projects each year. Earthwatch recruits volunteers from the general public and partner organisations to share the costs of a research project, and to join it as research assistants. In the past 30 years, Earthwatch field assistants have contributed 10 million man-hours to research internationally.
•Earthwatch projects are divided into four priority research areas including sustainable resource management, climate change, oceans and sustainable cultures.
Zoe Gamble | alfa
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)
At the LASYS 2018, from June 5th to 7th, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) will be showcasing processes for the laser material processing of tomorrow in hall 4 at stand 4E75. With blown bomb shells the LZH will present first results of a research project on civil security.
At this year's LASYS, the LZH will exhibit light-based processes such as cutting, welding, ablation and structuring as well as additive manufacturing for...
There are videos on the internet that can make one marvel at technology. For example, a smartphone is casually bent around the arm or a thin-film display is rolled in all directions and with almost every diameter. From the user's point of view, this looks fantastic. From a professional point of view, however, the question arises: Is that already possible?
At Display Week 2018, scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP will be demonstrating today’s technological possibilities and...
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...
02.05.2018 | Event News
13.04.2018 | Event News
12.04.2018 | Event News
22.05.2018 | Life Sciences
22.05.2018 | Earth Sciences
22.05.2018 | Trade Fair News