9ICRS debate on coral reefs and climate change

Ove Hoegh-Guldberg oveh at uq.edu.au
Wed Nov 8 02:26:33 EST 2000

I take the comment about the weir at Heron.  Sea level rise is likely not to
be an issue if corals are growing healthily and normally.  But as was
discussed at the Thursday night session, the effects of sea level rise are
likely to be negative if corals are are not growing and reproducing
normally.  As most evidence would suggest that this is likely to be the case
in warming and expanding oceans, one would conclude that sea level rise is
unlikely to represent a great boon or compensator in terms of our rapidly
warming world.

  -----Original Message-----
  From: Don McAllister [mailto:mcall at superaje.com]
  Sent: Tuesday, 7 November 2000 11:11 PM
  To: Nerilie Abram
  Cc: oveh at uq.edu.au; helen.mcgregor at anu.edu.au;
coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
  Subject: Re: 9ICRS debate on coral reefs and climate change

  Nerilie Abram wrote:

      We fully agree that temperature rise and CO2 rise are serious and
potentially devastating threats to the future of coral reefs, however we
firmly believe that sea level rise is not a threat to coral reefs.
Geological evidence in fact suggests quite the opposite, and under the
currently projected rates of future sea level rise coral reefs around the
world should easily be able to keep pace with sea level rise and would most
likely flourish in the new “accommodation space” provided for reef growth.
An example can be observed on Heron Island, where the construction of a weir
resulted in an artificial and immediate sea level rise on the order of
metres and has been accompanied by a marked increase in coral reef growth.
Of course, given the stresses on reefs by other factors their ability to
respond to rising sea level may not be as great as that
  I ask purely out of ignorance.  Was the Heron Island coral coral diversity
behind the weir the same as it was before?  I can deforests and plow a field
and let it go back to nature - but first there will be a lot of weeds and it
make take a long time before the balance is what it used to be.  The
diversity of corals is in some ways related to the much higher degree of
diversity of organisms that live amongst them. Less than a 1000 coral
species support almost a million species of scientifically named and as yet
unnamed species.
  Can one track such fine detail as species change in the geological record?
A few corals take centuries to reach their full size and form.

  Don McAllister
  Ocean Voice International

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