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2010 may be worst year ever for coral bleaching


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#1 scaper

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Posted 10 December 2010 - 08:09 AM

Excessively warm waters in the Caribbean, the Coral Triangle, southeast Asia and elsewhere in the world are contributing to what may be the worst year for coral bleaching in history, exceeding the damage seen in 2005 and the late 1990's:

http://www.nature.co...s.2010.621.html

http://coloradobob1....leaching-event-

http://www.climatewa...-alarm-for-2010

http://www.noaanews....lbleaching.html


Pat

#2 scottleslie

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Posted 10 December 2010 - 02:19 PM

That scenario fits with the expectations of it being the warmest year on record. Let's just hope that 2010 will be a blip on the temperature gradient, and the corals will have a chance to rebound some. But I don't think so. We've had a stretch of years where the average has been increasing but any given 5 years had some years warm, some cooler. I expect we're going to begin seeing less yearly variation and a more steady year over year increases. I hope I'm wrong.
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#3 scaper

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Posted 11 December 2010 - 09:08 AM

That scenario fits with the expectations of it being the warmest year on record. Let's just hope that 2010 will be a blip on the temperature gradient, and the corals will have a chance to rebound some. But I don't think so. We've had a stretch of years where the average has been increasing but any given 5 years had some years warm, some cooler. I expect we're going to begin seeing less yearly variation and a more steady year over year increases. I hope I'm wrong.


I think you are right. We can hope that we at least get enough normal or cooler years to give the corals a greater chance to recover and adjust to the extent that they can. Scientists are thinking that some forms of the algae that are symbiotic with the coral polyps have greater heat tolerance. There is even some talk of seeding reefs with these forms. Reefs can recover. The Pacific atoll used for nuke tests in the 50s has had a remarkable recovery of the coral reefs, even at ground zero for the tests. Of course you can't expect vast areas of old-growth coral to return to their previous state in a short amount of time even if all of the current stresses on these systems were corrected.

It's a very sad and deeply disturbing thing we are witnessing.

Pat

#4 scottleslie

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Posted 11 December 2010 - 12:35 PM

I think you are right. We can hope that we at least get enough normal or cooler years to give the corals a greater chance to recover and adjust to the extent that they can. Scientists are thinking that some forms of the algae that are symbiotic with the coral polyps have greater heat tolerance. There is even some talk of seeding reefs with these forms. Reefs can recover. The Pacific atoll used for nuke tests in the 50s has had a remarkable recovery of the coral reefs, even at ground zero for the tests. Of course you can't expect vast areas of old-growth coral to return to their previous state in a short amount of time even if all of the current stresses on these systems were corrected.

It's a very sad and deeply disturbing thing we are witnessing.

Pat


It is very sad. But, it is heartening to know that corals have, over the eons, rebounded from some pretty enormous shocks (the Permian and Cretaceous extinctions come to mind), but those recoveries have been on the order of millions of years. It reminds me of the saying "nature bats last", but given how slowly she works sometimes, maybe it should be revised to "nature bats last in the bottom of the millionth inning!".
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#5 scaper

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Posted 11 December 2010 - 02:10 PM

It is very sad. But, it is heartening to know that corals have, over the eons, rebounded from some pretty enormous shocks (the Permian and Cretaceous extinctions come to mind), but those recoveries have been on the order of millions of years. It reminds me of the saying "nature bats last", but given how slowly she works sometimes, maybe it should be revised to "nature bats last in the bottom of the millionth inning!".


She wins but there's no one around who remembers the game!

Pat