[Coral-List] New Science Paper Says Carbon Emissions Threaten Coral Reefs
Mark.Eakin at noaa.gov
Thu Dec 13 18:15:39 EST 2007
> *** NEWS FROM NOAA ***
> NATIONAL OCEANIC & ATMOSPHERIC ADMINISTRATION
> U. S. DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE
> WASHINGTON, DC
> Contact: Anatta, NOAA Public Affairs, 303-591-2530 (cell, at
> AGU) Ben Sherman, NOAA Public Affairs 301-713-3066
> New Science Paper Says Carbon Emissions Threaten Coral Reefs
> NOAA Coral Reef Watch coordinator Mark Eakin, and 17 fellow
> coral scientists from around the globe say corals could begin to
> disappear in 50 to 75 years due to steadily warming temperatures
> and increasing ocean acidification caused by carbon dioxide
> emissions. Their findings were published today as the cover story
> in the peer-reviewed journal Science.
> "Our findings are simple. Increasing concentrations of
> atmospheric carbon dioxide are warming and acidifying the oceans,”
> said Eakin, who will discuss the Science paper findings Friday
> afternoon at the annual American Geophysical Union fall meeting in
> San Francisco. “The impacts will be dramatic. Coral reef ecosystems
> will begin to disappear within the next 50 to 75 years. Warming
> and acidification will have devastating impacts on marine
> biodiversity and human livelihoods, especially in developing
> nations that depend on reefs for much of their economic well being."
> On the eve of the International Year of the Reef 2008, the
> scientists from seven countries are warning that most coral reefs
> will not survive the rapid increases in global temperatures and
> atmospheric CO2 that are forecast over this century by the
> Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change unless drastic action is
> taken to curb CO2 emissions. Even emission curbs will not be enough
> without concerted management of other threats to these ecosystems.
> The scientists, who are leading members of the international
> Coral Reef Targeted Research & Capacity Building for Management
> Program of which NOAA is a member, argue that rising global CO2
> emissions represent an ‘irreducible risk’ that will rapidly
> outstrip the capacity of local coastal managers and policy-makers
> to maintain the health of these critical ecosystems, if CO2
> emissions are allowed to continue unchecked.
> The warmer and more acidic oceans threaten to destroy coral
> reef ecosystems, exposing people to flooding, coastal erosion and
> the loss of food and income from reef-based fisheries and tourism,"
> says the paper's lead author, Ove Hoegh-Guldeberg of the University
> of Queensland in Australia. "It is estimated that coral reef-
> related tourism generates tens of billions of dollars per year
> worldwide. They are the economic engine of a vast number of
> economies around the world.
> Under guidance from the NOAA co-chaired US Coral Reef Task
> Force, ecosystem managers at the local level have been devising
> "local action plans" to cope with coral bleaching impacts.
> Developing partnerships with the World Bank and others, local
> managers have been seeking to reduce over fishing, pollution and
> unsustainable coastal development - the major local environmental
> threats caused by human activity.
> One of the important tools these managers have been using is
> the NOAA Coral Reef Watch warning system which was launched in
> 2000, including providing managers with automated e-mail alerts
> when NOAA satellite observations indicate rising water temperature
> beyond critical limits, conditions warranting extra measures to
> reduce stress on the local reefs. NOAA’s polar-orbiting operational
> satellites are a key part of the warning system. NOAA recently
> expanded the warning system adding 36 new virtual stations designed
> to monitor conditions that can lead to coral bleaching and reef
> disease or death. The new virtual stations, while currently in an
> experimental phase, more than double the available monitoring
> stations of coral ecosystems, increasing from 24 to 60 sites.
> "The data collected from the coral reef components of the
> developing integrated ocean observing system are documenting the
> increase in water temperature caused by global warming and
> providing additional measures of the impacts of human activity on
> corals," notes Eakin. "Corals are the sentinel of the seas and it
> is critical for us to listen and make adaptive responses to the
> warnings they are giving us."
> NOAA is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national
> safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-
> related events and information service delivery for transportation,
> and by providing environmental stewardship of our nation's coastal
> and marine resources. Through the emerging Global Earth Observation
> System of Systems (GEOSS), NOAA is working with its federal
> partners, more than 70 countries and the European Commission to
> develop a global monitoring network that is as integrated as the
> planet it observes, predicts and protects.
> On the Web: http://www.noaa.gov/ http://coralreefwatch.noaa.gov/
> - 30 -
C. Mark Eakin, Ph.D.
Coordinator, NOAA Coral Reef Watch
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Center for Satellite Applications and Research
Satellite Oceanography & Climate Division
e-mail: mark.eakin at noaa.gov
E/RA31, SSMC1, Room 5308
1335 East West Hwy
Silver Spring, MD 20910-3226
301-713-2857 x109 Fax: 301-713-3136
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