Monday, March 9, 2015

Climate Change May Impact Coral Reefs and Fish Markets

By Edith Carpio

A study done at the Georgia Institute of Technology indicates that the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Panama experiences conditions like La Niña because of discontinued coral reef growth, which lasted 2,500 years. The study expects the same thing to happen again because of climate change, which is creating similar conditions in their study that include cooler sea temperatures,  greater rainfall and higher rising seawater. These are signs that have been identified when coral reef growth stopped in Panama around 4,100 years ago. The study was done by collecting a piece of the Panamanian reef core and using the corals inside of the core to examine what the environment was like about 6,750 years ago. The study showed a strong correlation between halted reef growth and the environment.

The main component causing the coral reefs to stop or decrease the rate of normal growth is temperature. The study says these temperature changes and collapse in coral reef systems may be another result of anthropogenic climate change. As part of the study, the researchers examined the reef core and recreated the coral's growth, layer accumulation and then judged them against the environmental state in three different time periods; before, during and after the 2,500 years that coral reef growth stopped. The results showed that the reef core presented geochemical signals like La Nina event, which include colder water temperatures, wetter seasons, and higher sea levels.

This study suggested that temperature change is one of the factors causing the slowing or discontinued coral reef growth, and the temperature change is being caused by humans. The whole thing has become a giant blame game. A problem is that most environmental problems are rightfully blamed on humans. The further blame is that humans with power do not take the blame for it and take action. This causes unresolved environmental problems that lead to other environmental problems, which creates a whole other vicious cycle. In this case, it is our coral reef systems that are suffering.
Hopefully, after this study and studies like this one gets people's attention we can start to take action again human induced climate change. Like many things impacted by human induced climate change, we must realize their importance. Coral reefs have benefits for our ocean environments and for humans as well; maybe if we realize these benefits we will take action in stopping their degradation. Coral reefs are only 1 percent of the ocean floor, but support and sustain about 25 percent of marine life, according to the International Coral Reef Initiative website. Many species of fish live and feed on coral reef systems. So, the degradation of coral reef systems would affect mass amounts of fish. Fish markets are an industry in itself, so the business aspect of fish use would be affected.

Another benefit of reef systems is that they reduce the severity of wave force from cyclones, hurricanes or typhoons. Lastly, its benefit include the beauty it provides in the sea, which attracts a significant amount of tourism to many places around the world. A lot of places thrive on money from tourism, so the economic aspect is also an advantage because of coral reefs.

For more information:

Georgia Institute of Technology. 23 February 2015. La Niña-like Conditions Associated with 2,500-year-long Shutdown of Coral Reef Growth. ScienceDaily. 28 February 2015.

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