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With 2010 Sea Temps At All-Time High, Mass Coral Bleachings Underway Across Planet, More To Come

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hatrack Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jun-30-10 10:06 AM
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With 2010 Sea Temps At All-Time High, Mass Coral Bleachings Underway Across Planet, More To Come

Sea temperatures are at an all-time high. Major bleaching incidents are increasingly prevalent. The US National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) revealed that 2010 has been the hottest year in recorded history. Prior to this, 1998 was the hottest for 130 years, leading to unprecedented intense bleaching and coral mortality worldwide which wiped out more than 90 per cent of shallow water corals in the Indian Ocean. NOAA's Coral Reef Watch monitors and predicts bleaching events using HotSpots, a measure which highlights areas where sea surface temperatures rise above levels that can lead to bleaching.

As predicted by NOAA, bleaching began this February in Mauritius and it has progressed throughout the Indian Ocean and South East Asia, including reefs off Thailand, Cambodia, Malaysia and Philippines. Florida and the Caribbean are next, with strong warming of the surrounding sea and severe bleaching expected for the coming months.

Even the world's most southerly coral reef at Lord Howe Island has suffered its worst bleaching event. Lying off eastern Australia, the island is well known for its pristine and beautiful environment. For true coral reef formation, relatively stable conditions are required and Lord Howe Island is at the threshold of coral reef tolerance. Thermal-induced bleaching at the southern limits of coral reef formation is a cause for considerable concern; evidence that dramatic sea warming has spread to the subtropical regions as well as the tropics. The distribution of coral reefs is expected to shift dramatically with increasing sea temperatures. Elsewhere in Australia, the Great Barrier Reef has escaped severe bleaching. Cyclone Ului, which hit the Queensland coast in March, may have been its saving grace. Maldivian reefs were also spared severe bleaching with the arrival of monsoon weather in early May, quickly dissipating the warmer-than-average conditions. Unfortunately, other reefs were not so lucky and delayed monsoon winds and rain led to a prolonged period of calm weather and elevated sea temperatures. Chad Scott, from the Save Koh Tao conservation group, recalls the situation in the Gulf of Thailand this year: "We experienced some very hot weather and there was no rain for three months. As a consequence, water temperatures peaked at 34oC." Intense bleaching events like these can ruin reefs. Dr Clive Wilkinson, editor of the Status of Coral Reefs of the World reports, states that "approximately 16 per cent of the world's reefs were effectively destroyed in 1998".

This year, there are fears of equivalent losses. "In Thailand, the bleaching is reported to be the most severe in 20 years of monitoring. In 1998, the reefs of the Andaman Sea were essentially unaffected, this year these once outstanding reefs are up to 95 per cent bleached," says Dr James True from Prince of Songkhla University, Thailand, who witnessed the 1998 and 2010 bleaching events. The situation in Cambodia is equally serious. In Cambodia, a UK based conservation organisation is monitoring the impacts of the bleaching event on local reefs. Coral Cay Conservation (CCC) uses teams of volunteers to collect crucial information about the status of coral reefs around the world. This information is used to develop management recommendations for the host governments. Jan-Willem van Bochove, head marine scientist for CCC, has growing concerns for the future of coral reefs.

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MountainLaurel Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jun-30-10 11:13 AM
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1. But remember
Climate change is a hoax perpetrated by Al Gore and the latte-drinking, university-educated elitists.
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