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Coral Bleaching

ENVR 2270 Zoë Wreggitt

http://sites.duke.edu/biology217_01_s2011_pv24/how-does-rising-temperature-affect-coral-communities/global-threats/coralbleaching/

Coral Reefs
- Vital to marine ecosystems
(Hoegh-Guldberg, 1999)

- Composed of coral
(Hoegh-Guldberg, 1999)

- Large economic importance
(Hoegh-Guldberg, 1999)

Anthropocentric climate change is an ecologically significant contributor to the bleaching of coral reefs.
Picture: http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2011/feb/23/coral-reef-report-dying-danger

Ultraviolet Radiation
Ultraviolet radiation and coral bleaching
Gleason D, Wellington G. 1993. Ultraviolet radiation and coral bleaching. Nature, 365: 836-838.

- Ozone depletion is increasing
(EPA, 2010)

- Study showed significant bleaching when UV radiation was increased

Effects of radiation on a) zooxanthella densities and b) chlorophyll concentrations per cm of coral surface area in M. annularis colonies at different depths.

Figure: Gleason & Wellington, 1993.

Ultraviolet Radiation
Ultraviolet radiation and coral bleaching
Gleason D, Wellington G. 1993. Ultraviolet radiation and coral bleaching. Nature, 365: 836-838.

- Water clarity effects radiation - Ozone depletion is not as significant as water clarity

- Solar cycles
(Hathaway, 2011)

Picture: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/space/9097587/Solar-flares-everything-you-need-to-know.html

El Niño
El Niño/Southern Oscillation and tropical Pacific climate during the last millennium
Cobb, K., Charles, C., Cheng, H., Edwards, R., 2003. El Niño/Southern Oscillation and tropical Pacific climate during the last millennium, Nature, 424: 271.

- Intense bleaching occurs simultaneously with El Niño periods - Extremity of El Niño periods is increasing

Picture: http://coralreefwatch.noaa.gov/satellite/bleachingoutlook/descriptions/demo_introduction.php

El Niño
El Niño/Southern Oscillation and tropical Pacific climate during the last millennium
Cobb, K., Charles, C., Cheng, H., Edwards, R., 2003. El Niño/Southern Oscillation and tropical Pacific climate during the last millennium, Nature, 424: 271.

- Coral fossils from seventeenth century - Cannot link anthropocentric climate change with severity of El Niño periods

Picture: http://www.oum.ox.ac.uk/thezone/fossils/inverts/coral.htm

Tropical Storms; Cyclones
Changes in Tropical Number, Duration, and Intensity in a Warming Environment
Webster P, Holland G, Carry J, Chang H. 2005. Changes in Tropical Cyclone Number, Duration, and Intensity in a Warming Environment. Science, 309: 1844-1847.

- Cyclones can change salinity and the amount of light penetration in water - Researchers predict that cyclone frequency and intensity will increase
Figure: Percentage of coral cover in 1990 and 1991 on Middle Reef, Queensland, Australia. a) Acropora spp b) Montipora spp

Figure: Webster et. al., 2005.

Tropical Storms; Cyclones
Changes in Tropical Number, Duration, and Intensity in a Warming Environment
Webster P, Holland G, Carry J, Chang H. 2005. Changes in Tropical Cyclone Number, Duration, and Intensity in a Warming Environment. Science, 309: 1844-1847.

- Some species seem to thrive post-cyclone - There is no trend in cyclone activity
(Emanuel, 2005) Figure: The number of cyclones, severe and non-severe, that occurred in the Australian region from 1970-2011.

Figure: http://www.bom.gov.au/cyclone/climatology/trends.shtml

Any questions?