Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


"Sundried tide" — silent, natural disaster

Australian researchers have studied and documented the effect of the "sundried tide", a force of nature that can silently wipe out coral reefs.

Their analyses have revealed for the first time that these are highly predictable events that can seriously impact the state of coral reefs at a time when they are preparing for the stresses of summer.

In a paper published in scientific journal Marine Biology, Dr Ken Anthony and Dr Ailsa Kerswell, of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies (CoECRS) have revealed that extreme low tides on clear sunny days can lead to widespread damage of coastal coral colonies.

"Really low tides, where the local sea level gets to its extreme low for the year, can occur at different times of the day," UQ's Dr Anthony said.

"In years where this occurs during the middle of the day when the sunlight is at its most intense and the reefs are almost fully exposed, there is a real risk of severe coral stress and death in the shallow reef zone."

Just like cyclones and other natural disasters, these severe ‘sun-dry tides' rarely occurred since they relied on the alignment of numerous natural extremes, he said.

However, when these factors all aligned, by a combination of sun, moon and chance weather, an extreme event occurred which could leave coral colonies bleached and devastated.

One such event occurred in September 2005 while Dr Anthony and Dr Kerswell were taking JCU students on a field trip to Orpheus Island off the Queensland coast.

“While doing some field work we noticed that all the corals in the area were about to die, so we took the opportunity to record the event,” Dr Kerswell said.

Their observations led Dr Anthony and Dr Kerswell to investigate the mysterious coral deaths on Orpheus Island — a study which would reveal that what they had witnessed was a rare event, the extent of which had never previously been recorded on the Great Barrier Reef .

“At first we thought it was a major outbreak of disease," Dr Kerswell said.

"We collected samples and took hundreds of photos and sent a series off to colleagues to be analysed. The response was that it was not a disease, but something else.

“[So] we looked back through hourly records of tidal patterns over the previous eight years and combined it with data on solar records and models."

Dr Anthony said the researchers aligned what the tide would do with the sun and weather patterns and ran an analysis of the risk of corals being out of the water and exposed to the sun.

During September 2005 Dr Anthony, Dr Kerswell and the students were present the week following a rare extremely low tide during which the sun had been shining from a clear sky.

These "natural disasters" occur silently but can devastate the tidal zone. From past records Dr Anthony estimated that the September 2005 event was the worst in the eight-year record.

However, the "sundried tides" could also be anticipated.

"These events are highly predictable," Dr Anthony said.

"We can go into the weather reports, align them with tidal charts and predict the times of greatest risk.

"The high-risk time of year is July–October, when corals are building up resources for spawning and preparing for summer stressors such as thermal bleaching."

Since studying the cause and impacts of these major events, Dr Anthony hopes that their predictable nature will lead to improved warning systems and better models for predicting stress and mortality in corals.

Although predictable and natural, "sundried tides" were unavoidable and compounded the stresses already felt by corals due to climate change and human impacts, he said.

"However, if we better understand the timing and severity of natural stressors on reefs, we will be able to better predict the risks of human-induced stressors, and hopefully better manage for healthy reefs," he said.

Anthony, K and Kerswell, A (2007). Coral mortality following extreme low tides and high solar radiation. Marine Biology 151(5): 1623-1631.

Link to full text or pdf

More information:
Dr Ken Anthony, CoECRS & UQ, 07 3365 9154, 0427 177 290

Dr. Ken Anthony | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Invasive Insects Cost the World Billions Per Year
04.10.2016 | University of Adelaide

nachricht Malaysia's unique freshwater mussels in danger
27.09.2016 | The University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Innovative technique for shaping light could solve bandwidth crunch

20.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

Finding the lightest superdeformed triaxial atomic nucleus

20.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

NASA's MAVEN mission observes ups and downs of water escape from Mars

20.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

More VideoLinks >>>