[Coral-List] La Nina and global warming

dfenner dfenner dfenner at blueskynet.as
Thu Dec 2 04:45:54 EST 2010

Thanks, Billy!   I think this kind of information illustrates how useful
coral-list can be, educating/reminding all of us of some of the complexities
and wider implications of threats to coral reefs.    Doug

On Thu, Dec 2, 2010 at 8:00 AM, Billy Causey <Billy.Causey at noaa.gov> wrote:

> Colleagues,
> I carefully weigh in on this dialog with just a couple of additions to the
> great points Doug has raised.  It's also important to discuss climate change
> as it relates to coral health because as the water temperatures increase, so
> does the microbial activity in the coastal and marine environment.  And
> then, you add nutrients to the mix, like we have in the Florida Keys and
> other island areas,  a simplistic result is that you feed the microbes.
>  Then all sorts of coral diseases start showing up.  One of the controlling
> parameters has been how long the water remains warm, due to elevated sea
> surface temperatures ...that result from climate change and how polluted the
> water is in the area.  So, it is all connected in a synergistic and complex
> way.  The same thing happens to fish.  It was no accident that while we were
> having massive coral bleaching events in the Wider Caribbean in 1997-98,
> that we were having major outbreaks of coral diseases, fish dying from
> Brookenella and there were coastal harmful algal blooms in China, the Gulf
> and elsewhere on a global scale, at the same time and we were having a major
> Pfiesteria outbreak along the eastern seaboard of the United States.
> In my opinion, Doug is correct that coral bleaching and ocean acidification
> are serious responses from the impacts of climate change, but we are just
> starting to unravel the complexity of the full range of impacts from climate
> change to coastal and marine environments.  In the late 1970s and throughout
> the 1980's it was  the tropical coral reefs of the Caribbean that were
> responding.  Next, we will see more temperate environments responding to
> ever-increasing sea surface temperatures..... and due to climate change.
> Billy
> dfenner dfenner wrote:
>> Tom,
>>     The reason global warming or climate change is important for
>> coral-list
>> is because it is now viewed as the single greatest threat to coral reefs
>> in
>> the coming decades.  A survey of coral reef scientists in the
>> International
>> Coral Reef Society some years ago put it way down the list of threats.  A
>> recent survey of people in the same body came up with it at the top of the
>> list.  The threat is not for increased temperatures increasing the range
>> in
>> which corals can live.  The threat comes from mass coral bleaching and
>> acidification.  Mass coral bleaching is highly correlated with high sea
>> surface temperatures (and also seems to correlate with still periods of
>> clear water).  The correlation is so good that the NOAA Coral Watch group
>> has a whole series of products where they map sea surface temperatures,
>> temperature anomalies, hotspots, degree heating weeks, etc.  All very
>> useful
>> tools available on the web for free, for predicting when and where mass
>> coral bleaching will happen.  Useful because it has been proven to work,
>> when the indicators say bleaching will likely occur if the conditions
>> continue, then bleaching usually does occur there (and not when and where
>> it
>> says it won't).  Because mass bleaching is caused primarily by high water
>> temperatures, and because water temperatures are rising, it is highly
>> likely
>> that mass coral bleaching events will be more common and severe in the
>> future.  In mild events, many or most corals recover (though they can't
>> grow
>> while bleached or reproduce for a year or more afterwords).  In severe
>> events, many or most corals can die, even almost all.  16% of the world's
>> corals were estimated to have died in the hot waters of 1998, and places
>> like the Maldives had 95% or more of all corals die.  Mass bleaching
>> events
>> caused by hot water were not reported before just a couple decades ago,
>> and
>> they are increasing in intensity and frequency.  So global warming is
>> vitally important to the future of coral reefs around the world.  In
>> addition, the increasing amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere (which
>> is not disputed) decreases the pH, the alkalinity, of the ocean.  That in
>> turn makes it more difficult for calcium carbonate to precipitate and
>> easier
>> for it to dissolve.  Even if the world does not warm, this will cause
>> severe
>> problems for coral reefs.
>>     I dare say virtually everybody who is concerned with climate change
>> and
>> acidification on coral reefs is also concerned about the many other
>> factors
>> that have caused damage on reefs and are threatening future damage to
>> reefs.  Most people who are concerned about reefs are working flat out on
>> those problems, as well as trying to figure out what to do about climate
>> change.  To save reefs, we have to work on all of them, and I've never
>> heard
>> anyone say that we should work only on climate change and ignore the other
>> threats.  But climate change is the 800 pound gorilla sitting in the
>> corner
>> of the room, and all our other efforts are likely to be overwhelmed by hot
>> water-caused coral deaths if we ignore it for a few more decades. In fact,
>> one of the few things we can do to combat the effects of global warming
>> and
>> bleaching on reefs is to reduce other threats, so reefs are healthier, and
>> more resilient, able to recover.  That's a point that people concerned
>> about
>> mass bleaching have made over and over, so, far from ignoring other
>> threats,
>> they are actually stressing that reducing other threats is the most
>> important direct tool for countering the effects of global warming on
>> reefs.
>>  I would like to thank all those working tirelessly on the many problems
>> coral reefs face, and there are very many of you.  I urge all to not
>> forget
>> or neglect all the other problems.  But climate change needs to be an
>> important part of our efforts, and reducing the amount of CO2 released is
>> absolutely necessary for saving reefs in the long term (meaning the next
>> several decades).  And that doesn't even depend on whether you think
>> global
>> warming is real or human-caused (acidification alone is enough).     Doug
>> On Sun, Nov 28, 2010 at 6:07 AM, Tom Williams <ctwiliams at yahoo.com>
>> wrote:
>>> Steve
>>> Global Warming/Climate Change does relate to corals and yes we use to
>>> have
>>> coral reefs in central california; we use to have tropical waters over
>>> much
>>> of the central valley but I don't start talking about the melting of the
>>> tundra/permafrost or the opening of the Arctic Pack Ice on Coral
>>> List....are
>>> they related - kind of.
>>> But we can talk about what are the GW aspects of the northern and
>>> southern
>>> most corals - say those on the south end of Hainan Island in South
>>> China...north edge of South China Sea...Do we see any changes in sea
>>> water
>>> temps north of Bermuda...
>>> I don't want anyone restricted other than saying how GW is either
>>> affecting
>>> or not yet affecting corals at XYZ...be they skeptics, scientists, or
>>> lots
>>> of "small people" and I don't worry about religious or political swings
>>> of
>>> anyone as long as we are talking corals, reefs, and marine ecology...
>>> Many aspects of the GW (note NOT using CC) are not directly related to
>>> oceanography (thermodynamics of the thermal differences between the
>>> equator/polar and drivers for jet stream) but then they can be related to
>>> the winds  then to currents and then to sea water temp and eventually to
>>> corals...ALL I ask is to keep the focus on corals as the list states, and
>>> yeh even reef balls...how about the changes in starfish distribution and
>>> their effects on corals...
>>> Does anyone have the address for the best science-blog-list for global
>>> warming or even climate change????? I have always been leaning on te
>>> climatological sides but worked in the North Slope
>>> conditions...influenced
>>> by Antarctic climatologist and Quaternary glaciologist along with 6
>>> months
>>> on fisheries for the first offshore oil production platform in the US
>>> Arctic
>>> ocean...
>>> BUT Where are the reefs that would be first affected by GW East/West
>>> Coasts
>>> of Pacific/Atlantic...any indicators in Diego Garcia or the
>>> wester/eastern
>>> coasts of the Indian OCeans...
>>> Tom
>>> --- On Fri, 11/26/10, Steve Mussman <sealab at earthlink.net> wrote:
>>> From: Steve Mussman <sealab at earthlink.net>
>>> Subject: [Coral-List] La Nina and global warming
>>> To: "coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov" <coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov>
>>> Date: Friday, November 26, 2010, 8:07 PM
>>> It appears that some desire to restrict or cut off discussion of climate
>>> change
>>> issues on the list. They argue that the topic doesn't pertain to coral
>>> reefs
>>> or marine ecosystems and that these discussions would be more appropriate
>>> if
>>> confined to other venues where atmospheric considerations dominate.
>>> Others
>>> want to impose selective criteria on anyone posting comments that qualify
>>> as
>>> "pro-AGW".
>>> (Hopefully, no one on either side is pro anthropogenic global warming)
>>> But, be that as it may, it should be pointed out that the current thread
>>> began
>>> with the proddings of one of list's more outspoken anthropogenic climate
>>> change
>>> skeptics. (If that term can be used in an endearing sense as there is no
>>> intention of accusing anyone of heretical behavior.) In fact, I would say
>>> that although his views  often draw fire, to his credit he (Gene) has
>>> never
>>> suggested that the debate be muted.
>>> Whenever it is suggested that contributors be limited by arbitrary
>>> criteria
>>> or
>>> topics forbidden by a similar paradigm it becomes an advocacy for
>>> censorship.
>>> I would hope that the Coral-List would want to avoid such an overt
>>> suppression
>>> of thought.
>>> This is not a religious debate, but an examination of scientific facts,
>>> albeit with
>>> some level of prognostication as is common in developing any theoretical
>>> concept.
>>> It is not contrived, designed to control the list or meant to induce
>>> fear.
>>> Nor are these exchanges preventing the introduction of alternate topics.
>>> We can all probably do more in our everyday lives to improve the
>>> situation,
>>> but restricting the exchange of ideas isn't one of them.
>>> We can never be sure that the opinion we are endeavoring to stifle is a
>>> false opinion; and if we were sure, stifling it would be an evil still.
>>> ~John Stuart Mill
>>>  We can never be sure that the opinion we are endeavoring to stifle is a
>>> false opinion; and if we were sure, stifling it would be an evil still.
>>> ~John Stuart Mill, On Liberty, 1859
>>> _______________________________________________
>>> Coral-List mailing list
>>> Coral-List at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
>>> http://coral.aoml.noaa.gov/mailman/listinfo/coral-list
>>> _______________________________________________
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>>> Coral-List at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
>>> http://coral.aoml.noaa.gov/mailman/listinfo/coral-list
>> _______________________________________________
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> --
> Billy D. Causey, Ph.D., Regional Director
> Southeast Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Region
> National Marine Sanctuary Program
> 33 East Quay Road
> Key West, Florida 33040
> 305.809.4670 (ex 234)
> 305.395.0150 (cell)
> 305.293.5011 (fax)
> Billy.Causey at noaa.gov

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