[Coral-List] NY Times: Extreme Heat Puts Coral Reefs at Risk

Bruno, John F jbruno at unc.edu
Tue Sep 21 07:29:04 EDT 2010

Note the striking error in the story in falsely stating that 2010 is an EL Nino year (thus implying we are currently in an El Nino phase):

"Drastic die-offs of coral were seen for the first time in 1983 in the eastern Pacific and the Caribbean, during a large-scale weather event known as El Nino. During an El Nino, warm waters normally confined to the western Pacific flow to the east; 2010 is also an El Nino year."

We were indeed still in El Nino during the beginning of 2010, however, we are now firmly in a La Nina phase of ENSO and have been since May: http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/analysis_monitoring/enso_advisory/index.shtml

The error goes beyond simply misreporting the oceanographic facts, it causes Justin to entirely miss the significance of the event: unlike past warming/mass-bleaching events in the Indo-Pacific and Caribbean, this time it is happening during a La Nina and is thus obviously not caused by a natural El Nino (perhaps exacerbated by background warming), i.e., this time the pattern is more concordant with the argument that the observed warming is related to anthropogenic climate change.



John F. Bruno, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Department of Marine Science
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
jbruno at unc.edu<mailto:jbruno at unc.edu>

President & Lead Scientist
The Blue Carbon Project

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