Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Scientists create new maps depicting potential worldwide coral bleaching by 2056

26.02.2013
New maps show how rising sea temperatures are likely to affect all coral reefs in the form of annual coral bleaching events under different emission scenarios

In a study published today in Nature Climate Change researchers used the latest emissions scenarios and climate models to show how varying levels of carbon emissions are likely to result in more frequent and severe coral bleaching events.


In a new article in Nature Climate Change scientists from NOAA's Cooperative Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Studies show maps that illustrate how rising sea temperatures are likely to affect all coral reefs, including those in Polynesia, in the form of annual coral bleaching events under various different emission scenarios. Their results emphasize that without significant reductions in emissions most coral reefs on the planet are at risk for bleaching within the next several decades.

Credit: Thomas Vignaud

Large-scale 'mass' bleaching events on coral reefs are caused by higher-than-normal sea temperatures. High temperatures make light toxic to the algae that reside within the corals. The algae, called 'zooxanthellae', provide food and give corals their bright colors. When the algae are expelled or retained but in low densities, the corals can starve and eventually die. Bleaching events caused a reported 16 percent loss of the world's coral reefs in 1998 according to the Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network.

If carbon emissions stay on the current path most of the world's coral reefs (74 percent) are projected to experience coral bleaching conditions annually by 2045, results of the study show. The study used climate model ensembles from the upcoming Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Around a quarter of coral reefs are likely to experience bleaching events annually five or more years earlier than the median year, and these reefs in northwestern Australia, Papau New Guinea, and some equatorial Pacific islands like Tokelau, may require urgent attention, researchers warn.

"Coral reefs in parts of the western Indian Ocean, French Polynesia and the southern Great Barrier Reef, have been identified as temporary refugia from rising sea surface temperatures," said Ruben van Hooidonk, Ph.D., from the Cooperative Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Studies (CIMAS) at the University of Miami and NOAA's Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory. "These locations are not projected to experience bleaching events annually until five or more years later than the median year of 2040, with one reef location in the Austral Islands of French Polynesia protected from the onset of annual coral bleaching conditions until 2056."

The findings emphasize that without significant reductions in emissions most coral reefs are at risk, according to the study. A reduction of carbon emissions would delay annual bleaching events more than two decades in nearly a quarter (23 percent) of the world's reef areas, the research shows.

"Our projections indicate that nearly all coral reef locations would experience annual bleaching later than 2040 under scenarios with lower greenhouse gas emissions." said Jeffrey Maynard, Ph.D., from the Centre de Recherches Insulaires et Observatoire de l'Environnement (CRIOBE) in Moorea, French Polynesia. "For 394 reef locations (of 1707 used in the study) this amounts to at least two more decades in which some reefs might conceivably be able to improve their capacity to adapt to the projected changes."

"More so than any result to date, this highlights and quantifies the potential benefits for reefs of reducing emissions in terms of reduced exposure to stressful reef temperatures."

"This study represents the most up-to-date understanding of spatial variability in the effects of rising temperatures on coral reefs on a global scale," said researcher Serge Planes, Ph.D., also from the French research institute CRIOBE in French Polynesia.

The researchers involved in the study all concur that projections that combine the threats posed to reefs by increases in sea temperature and ocean acidification will further resolve where temporary refugia may exist.

The study was funded by the Pacific Islands Climate Change Cooperative based in Hawaii, the U.S. National Research Council and CNRS.

AOML, a federal research laboratory, is part of NOAA's Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research, located in Miami, Fla. AOML's research spans hurricanes, coastal ecosystems, oceans and human health, climate studies, global carbon systems, and ocean observations. For more information, please visit http:/www.aoml.noaa.gov

CIMAS is a research institute based at the University of Miami, within the Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science. It serves as a mechanism to bring together the research resources of nine major public and private research universities in Florida and the U.S. Caribbean with those of NOAA in order to develop a Center of Excellence that is relevant to understanding the Earth's oceans and atmosphere within the context of NOAA's mission. For more information, please visit http://cimas.rsmas.miami.edu/

Barbra Gonzalez | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.rsmas.miami.edu

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Safeguarding sustainability through forest certification mapping
27.06.2017 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

nachricht Dune ecosystem modelling
26.06.2017 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau

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: Manipulating Electron Spins Without Loss of Information

Physicists have developed a new technique that uses electrical voltages to control the electron spin on a chip. The newly-developed method provides protection from spin decay, meaning that the contained information can be maintained and transmitted over comparatively large distances, as has been demonstrated by a team from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute. The results have been published in Physical Review X.

For several years, researchers have been trying to use the spin of an electron to store and transmit information. The spin of each electron is always coupled...

Im Focus: The proton precisely weighted

What is the mass of a proton? Scientists from Germany and Japan successfully did an important step towards the most exact knowledge of this fundamental constant. By means of precision measurements on a single proton, they could improve the precision by a factor of three and also correct the existing value.

To determine the mass of a single proton still more accurate – a group of physicists led by Klaus Blaum and Sven Sturm of the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear...

Im Focus: On the way to a biological alternative

A bacterial enzyme enables reactions that open up alternatives to key industrial chemical processes

The research team of Prof. Dr. Oliver Einsle at the University of Freiburg's Institute of Biochemistry has long been exploring the functioning of nitrogenase....

Im Focus: The 1 trillion tonne iceberg

Larsen C Ice Shelf rift finally breaks through

A one trillion tonne iceberg - one of the biggest ever recorded -- has calved away from the Larsen C Ice Shelf in Antarctica, after a rift in the ice,...

Im Focus: Laser-cooled ions contribute to better understanding of friction

Physics supports biology: Researchers from PTB have developed a model system to investigate friction phenomena with atomic precision

Friction: what you want from car brakes, otherwise rather a nuisance. In any case, it is useful to know as precisely as possible how friction phenomena arise –...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

»We are bringing Additive Manufacturing to SMEs«

19.07.2017 | Event News

The technology with a feel for feelings

12.07.2017 | Event News

Leipzig HTP-Forum discusses "hydrothermal processes" as a key technology for a biobased economy

12.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Researchers create new technique for manipulating polarization of terahertz radiation

20.07.2017 | Information Technology

High-tech sensing illuminates concrete stress testing

20.07.2017 | Materials Sciences

First direct observation and measurement of ultra-fast moving vortices in superconductors

20.07.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>