Climate change putting Florida’s reefs in danger

A new report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) shows that the reefs in Florida are highly susceptible to the effects of increasing climate change.

This report, according to Tech Times, focused specifically on coral bleaching, a phenomenon that has been increasing over the past 20 years. Coral bleaching happens when ocean waters begin to warm, prompting the algae living within the coral to leave. This then makes the coral lose their color and turn completely white as more and more of the algae disperse. Bleaching has been happening more and more as of late, and climate change is a large reason why.

Previous research into bleaching has revealed that almost all of the coral reefs in the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean will experience some sort of bleaching by the middle of the century, but NOAA’s report has detailed when and where the bleaching will occur. It is also noted in the journal Global Change Biology that projected bleaching occurrences greatly vary in location and timing. These projections are in place to aid resource managers in better understanding coral bleaching, which will allow them to better plan for the effects.

 

Some locations in the report were referred to as “relative refugia,” meaning they had fewer instances of extreme events and lower rates in temperature spikes. Aside from Florida, other locations identified in the report that are set to experience coral bleaching within the next 15 years also include the Bahamas, Mexico, Cuba, Turks and Caicos, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. These areas are highlighted in order to give them priority in conservation efforts.

Losing coral reefs is bad on many levels. Without coral reefs, fish will not have the habitat they need to thrive, cutting back on food sources for people. In addition, opportunities for tourism are also reduced since underwater treasures in these reefs attract visitors from across the world, and coral reefs also act as a natural buffer to storms along the coastline, absorbing wave energy and keeping damage to a minimum. These projections offer vital information about the threat level coral bleaching brings, which will aid the agency in making better management decisions. Managers may decide to use this information to protect these locations as refuges or protected areas, and they may even take further actions to reduce stress caused by human activities.

 

Photo: New reports reveal the effects of coral bleaching across the world.

 

View original article at: Climate change putting Florida’s reefs in danger

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