Photo via ScubaBear68 CC BY 2.0
This summer won't be fun for many coral reefs, particularly in the Carribean which look to be facing stressors and potential widespread bleaching through October, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The main stressor? It's too hot and dry! According to NOAA, the thermal stress indicators are looking to match that of 2005, which was a really bad year for coral bleaching. The report indicates that warmer temperatures are also due in part from the developing El Niño, though the Carribean is typically hit worse with warmer water during the second year, meaning 2010. Combine that with lower than usual rainfall in the area providing less cloud cover to protect from heat, will add up to a difficult summer for the corals, which are already experiencing quite the stress load thanks to climate change.
Recent research indicates that local stressors such as overfishing and pollution - even from sunscreen - make coral reefs even less resilient after bleaching. Rather than becoming acclimated to the often human-created stressors, they actually take two to three times longer to recover from a bleaching event.
So should Carribean coral reefs suffer severe bleaching this summer, as looks to be a strong possibility, it could also mean that the recovery time could be quite long. That's not good news for corals or marine life.
You can access the NOAA's Google Earth products to watch their coral reef satellite monitoring.
Via NY Times Dot Earth
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More on the Status of Corals
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Limiting CO2 to 450ppm Will NOT Prevent Catastrophic Loss of Coral Reefs