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Mass Coral Deaths Due to Ocean Warming

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posted on Mar, 20 2006 @ 12:37 AM
This news is pretty much everywhere on the web now, messing up my search for algae + fuel on Google News. But it's pretty significant nonetheless. High ocean temperatures are causing the corals to expel the algae living in their polyps which provide them with their food and coloration.

The result is only the bony calcium shell is left, leaving them white as though bleached. The corals will die off within a month if temperatures do not return to normal.

Ghostly coral bleachings haunt the world‘s reefs

SYDNEY - When marine scientist Ray Berkelmans went diving at Australia‘s Great Barrier Reef earlier this year, what he discovered shocked him -- a graveyard of coral stretching as far as he could see.

"It‘s a white desert out there," Berkelmans told Reuters in early March after returning from a dive to survey bleaching -- signs of a mass death of corals caused by a sudden rise in ocean temperatures -- around the Keppel Islands off Queensland.

Australia has just experienced its warmest year on record and abnormally high sea temperatures during summer have caused massive coral bleaching in the Keppels. Sea temperatures touched 84 Fahrenheit, the upper limit for coral.

Please visit the link provided for the complete story.

High ocean temperatures off the coast of Queensland... not only does it cause tropical cyclones, it's also killing the reefs.

[edit on 20-3-2006 by Beachcoma]

posted on Mar, 20 2006 @ 01:30 AM
To be fair this could just as easily read "Mass coral deaths due to ocean warming". Global warming sounds better but the truth is that they are dead because of ocean warming. Then the debate comes whether the atmosphere is warming the ocean or whether the ocean is warming the atmosphere. Which came first? The chicken or the egg?. But the true story is that ocean warming is the cause of the deaths.

posted on Mar, 20 2006 @ 01:35 AM
Ok, I edited the title to be more precise. But the fact still remains that temperatures are going up, both atmospheric and oceanic.

posted on Mar, 20 2006 @ 01:37 PM
I may be wrong as I haven't done any research on this subject but aren't coral one of the major carbon sinks that remove CO2 from the atmosphere?
If this were true the massive die-off of coral would increase the CO2 content of the atmosphere and compound the problem of global warming.

posted on Mar, 21 2006 @ 01:26 PM
This is what I found:

Coral reefs: carbon cycling

Intuitively perhaps coral reefs would seem to seem to store carbon dioxide, and therefore provide an important non- consumptive service in regulating global climate and temperature. This would appear to be the case considering the deposition chemistry of limestone:

carbon dioxide + water + calcium carbonate (limestone) ↔ calcium ion + 2 hydrocarbonate ions

However the situation is much more complex. Over the time scales at which ice ages and patterns of ocean circulation vary (tens to hundreds of thousand years) the balance switches. In cold glacial periods sea level is low and more reefs are exposed. Carbon dioxide and water erode the solid limestone and the chemical equilibrium passes to the right, with increased global concentrations of dissolved calcium and hydrocarbonate ions. Conversely reefs rapidly accumulate in the warm interglacial periods when more of the global pool of dissolved hydrocarbonate is converted into solid limestone, and atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide increase.

Therefore reefs can be both sinks and sources of carbon dioxide. Overlying these changes is the accumulation of limestone over geological times scales (1000s of millions of years) through which carbon has been stored in the earth' s crust as limestone, as well as in coal, oil and gas deposits. The role of coral reefs however has been restricted to the last 200-250 million years, since the first scleractinian corals with algal symbionts appeared in the Triassic.

On time scales of most relevance to humans however coral reefs are almost certainly irrelevant to the long term storage of carbon dioxide. Human activities have produced and added more of the gas to the atmosphere in the past century than corals have stored in reefs over the past interglacial period lasting 15,000 years.

So it would appear that coral reefs are not really relevant as carbon sinks. However their die-off isn't a good thing either. Reefs are home to a diverse amount of life forms.

See: Ecology and biodiversity of coral reefs

Some of these endangered reef life may hold the key to future medicine, so if they are gone, that's it.

posted on Mar, 21 2006 @ 01:45 PM
"The rotten sore in the face of Mother Earth gets bigger. The trigger's cold after ya pull it."

posted on Mar, 21 2006 @ 01:54 PM
I heard today that ocean fish supply is drastically threatened as well.
I dont want to lead away from the topic, because i see a connection...
nations meet to discuss depleted ocean fishing stocks

Our oceans are changing... that means everything, since the oceans are the earths major "organs" all rolled into one.

losing the coral maybe analogous to losing our lungs lining cells... (which would kill us eventually)

lets hope the temps go down again... but alas... not likely to happen for many centuries...

Too bad no one listened when all those Greenpeace wackos were trying to save the lives of our childrens children...
now its too late... so who is wacky now?

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