Although the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NOAA, issued an advisory in July announcing above-average sea surface temperatures in the wider Caribbean region, there had been no clear indication of increased sea temperatures in Panama and the western Caribbean until late August-early September.
Scientists and local dive operators first noticed coral bleaching in the waters surrounding Isla Colon in Panama's Bocas del Toro province in July. Smithsonian staff scientist Nancy Knowlton and colleagues documented an extensive bleaching event in late September. Station personnel recorded an extreme sea water temperature of 32 degrees C. Normal temperatures at this time of year are closer to 28 degrees C. This warming event currently affects the entire Caribbean coast of Panama from Kuna-Yala to Bocas del Toro and has also been reported at sites in Costa Rica.
An extensive coral reef monitoring network in Panama, established over a decade ago by staff scientist Héctor M. Guzmán of STRI and partially funded by the Nature Conservancy, consists of 33 sites along both the Pacific and Atlantic coasts of the Isthmus, with 11 sites in the Bocas del Toro area. As of Oct. 3, 95 percent of the seafloor at the Bocas del Toro sites had been checked for bleaching. Coral mortality was limited to shallow areas near Isla Colon and a semi-lagoon area in Bocas del Toro, which is considered to be particularly vulnerable to bleaching as water circulation there is slow and temperatures tend to rise quickly. Researchers expect to have a complete report of the state of the coral reefs in several weeks.
Coral polyps, the tiny organisms that make up a coral reef, contain photosynthetic algae called zoxanthellae. Coral bleaching occurs when corals lose their color as a result of the loss of their algal component, which is caused by increased water temperature or other stress factors. Bleaching impairs vital functions of the coral such as reproduction and growth.With prolonged warming, corals begin to die releasing great quantities of mucous resulting in increasingly turbid waters. Oxygen levels may fall as bacteria and fungi proliferate. Anoxic conditions affect fish and coastal productivity. STRI has monitored the water column to a depth of 20 meters at 23 sites. "Dissolved oxygen dropped to less than 3 milligrams per liter at 10 meters and nearly zero milligrams per liter at the bottom," said STRI technician Plinio Gondola, who recorded the measurements. It is still not clear if temperature rise is directly related to bleaching and anoxia at this site.
The Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, headquartered in Panama City, Panama is a unit of the Smithsonian Institution. The Institute furthers the understanding of tropical nature and its importance to human welfare, trains students to conduct research in the tropics and promotes conservation by increasing public awareness of the beauty and importance of tropical ecosystems. www.stri.org
Beth King | EurekAlert!
Safeguarding sustainability through forest certification mapping
27.06.2017 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)
Dune ecosystem modelling
26.06.2017 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau
An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.
Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...
Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.
Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...
Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.
As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...
Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.
With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...
Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine
Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...
19.06.2017 | Event News
13.06.2017 | Event News
13.06.2017 | Event News
29.06.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering
29.06.2017 | Life Sciences
29.06.2017 | Seminars Workshops