Friday, December 19, 2008

Hot southern summer threatens coral with massive bleaching event

World Wildlife Federation: A widespread and severe coral bleaching episode is predicted to cause immense damage to some of the world’s most important marine environments over the next few months. A report from the US Government’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predicts severe bleaching for parts of the Coral Sea, which lies adjacent to Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, and the Coral Triangle, a 5.4 million square kilometre expanse of ocean in the Indo-Pacific which is considered the centre of the world’s marine life.

“This forecast bleaching episode will be caused by increased water temperatures and is the kind of event we can expect on a regular basis if average global temperatures rise above 2 degrees,” said Richard Leck, Climate Change Strategy Leader for WWF’s Coral Triangle Program. The bleaching, predicted to occur between now and February, could have a devastating impact on coral reef ecosystems, killing coral and destroying food chains. There would be severe impacts for communities in Australia and the region, who depend on the oceans for their livelihoods.

The Coral Triangle, stretching from the Philippines to Malaysia and Papua New Guinea, is home to 75 per cent of all known coral species. More than 120 million people rely on its marine resources….

Coral drilling to recover a core for studying paleoclimate change. Photo by Hannes Grobe (Exposure: Werner Dzomla), Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 2.5 License

No comments: