BEACON TRANSCRIPT – Based on recent estimates, rising sea temperatures could permanently bleach coral reefs. Scientists at the US National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration claim El Nino is the most harmful phenomenon and it could lead to the bleaching of worldwide corals.
El Nino is a warm weather phenomenon causing significant surges in ocean water temperatures. Marine experts scientifically name this phenomenon the El Nino Southern Oscillation due to the warm string of water that appears in the eastern and central areas of the Pacific.
As interesting as this phenomenon may seem, it is also disturbing from various points of view. Researchers at the Queensland University and the U.S. National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration think rising water temperatures could permanently bleach coral reefs.
They have reached this conclusion after comparing the evolution of corals in Australia’s Great Barrier Reef over the past decades. Apparently, corals in this region have gradually lost their sparkly shades because warm temperatures cause disruptions within the photosynthesis process.
Coral bleaching occurs when water is too warm to allow production of dinoflagellates algae. This underwater plant usually lives on the surface of corals. It feeds on nitrogen and phosphorus, two substances that release, in turn, energy in the tissue of the coral.
Whenever ocean water becomes too warm, corals cannot produce the dinoflagellates algae and their entire skeleton is affected. This process is usually noticeable during the years when the El Nino phenomenon is more preeminent.
Scientists have stated that the corals in the Great Barrier Reef have become alarmingly pale because they have lost great part of the dinoflagellates algae covering them. If marine organizations fail to find a solutions for the greenhouse gas emissions, the coral reefs in the Pacific Ocean could soon suffer permanent bleaching.
Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, the director of the Global Change Institute, has further mentioned that the first bleaching phenomenon was observed in 1998, when half of the Great Barrier Reef corals died as a result of bleaching. Effects were somewhat smaller during the 2010 global event because water temperatures were lowered by storm activities, but Guldberg fears coral reefs may not be so lucky in 2016.
The new study was published months ahead of the new United Nations’ conference in Paris as marine experts hoped nations could be influenced to adopt measures against climate change effects. Curbing greenhouse gasses will be the main topic of the event, Guldberg has concluded.
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