Summer Sale! Get unlimited digital access for 13 weeks for $13.
Lifestyle
Lifestyle

Coral reefs may be more adaptive to climate change than once thought

Scientists studying the catastrophic phenomena of coral bleaching have concluded that reef systems may be more adaptable to increasingly warmer oceans than previously believed.

The study — published online in the journal Global Change Biology -- is heartening news, coming in the face of dire predictions that had the world’s coral reefs disappearing by the middle of the century.  

The work was funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and conducted by researchers at Cal State Monterey Bay and the University of British Columbia. The scientists project that corals might be more resilient than previous studies have suggested and might produce genetic responses to warm waters.

The authors stressed, however, that current losses could be slowed only with significant reductions in carbon dioxide emissions.

Coral systems are sensitive to temperature changes. An increase of only 2-4 degrees above average summer water temperatures can create stress, causing corals to expel algae, a major food source. Prolonged bleaching can kill corals.

Reefs have been hard hit by climate change, according to scientists. A 2000 report found that 20% of the ocean’s reef systems were lost to high water temperatures during the El Niño and La Niña events in 1998 and 1999.

Another paper, in the journal Science, documents an 80% loss of coral cover in the Caribbean, where reefs are among the most biodiverse ecosystems in the world.

@julie_cart

Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun
Related Content
  • La Brea tar pits are a "time machine" that take LA to the Pleistocene

    La Brea tar pits are a "time machine" that take LA to the Pleistocene

    The Los Angeles County Natural History Museum celebrated its 100th anniversary of excavation at the La Brea Tar Pits Monday with a guided tour by the dig site’s museum curator and free admission for visitors.

  • Baltimore dream homes

    Baltimore dream homes

    Dream Home takes readers into the houses of Baltimore area residents who have found their ideal home, whether it be a mansion, rowhouse or two-room cabin. Have you found your dream home? Tell us about it at homes@baltsun.com.

  • The great fall 2015 book preview

    The great fall 2015 book preview

    The summer book season tends to be associated with leisure reads and lighter fare, while fall is all about substance. There were certainly some literary gems strewn across June, July and August, but when appraising the quality and quantity of 2015 releases, the clichés are true: Fall is an embarrassment...

  • Local body painter explores the art of healing

    Local body painter explores the art of healing

    During her pregnancy, Amber Blose had been touching her belly whenever the baby moved, counting the weeks to his arrival. But her son, Cameron, was in her arms a lot sooner than anticipated. Born prematurely, he died at 9 days old in April 2011.

  • A guide to seeing the pope in Philadelphia

    A guide to seeing the pope in Philadelphia

    Pope Francis will spend two days in Philadelphia at the end of this month, but visitors hoping to catch a glimpse of the pontiff will have to make every minute of their planning count. His two big public events will both be on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, home to the city's museum district. He'll...

  • Baltimore ranks among world's least friendly cities

    Baltimore ranks among world's least friendly cities

    Last year, we were fat and ugly. This year, we're mean.

Comments
Loading
90°