[Coral-List] Evidence that ocean warming has caused most Caribbean coral loss

Pedro M Alcolado gmalcolado at gmail.com
Tue May 2 14:18:22 EDT 2017

Maybe I could be wrong, but I think that what is happening now is a
fatal synergy of CO2 pollution of the atmosphere with a number of more
local very harmful human interventions. Coral reef resilience is being
destroyed too fast in the last decades. Gloomy, indeed!

On 5/2/17, Bruno, John <jbruno at unc.edu> wrote:
> Dear Ulf,
> My understanding is that the current, human-caused warming is happening
> 10-100X more rapidly than has occurred over the last 65 million years during
> natural warming events (Diffenbaugh 2013). The greater rate is obviously a
> reason we expect greater impacts to species and ecosystems than we’ve seen
> in the past.
> You might be right that in the near-term (this century), we are not likely
> to lose many coral species to extinction. However, if warming trends follow
> RCP 8.5 and reefs warm by another 3 C by 2100 (as the climate models
> predict), it is very likely that a substantial portion of reef taxa couldn’t
> tolerate summertime temps of 33-35 C. Some would migrate to higher
> latitudes, but many probably couldn’t (for a variety of reasons). And in
> following centuries, if warming continued, we’d lose more than reefs - most
> tropical marine biodiversity would be lost. But even in the near-term,
> losing the reefs is a big problem for people! You seem rather blasé about
> that.
> If you continue to deny reality, there really is no changing your mind. As
> most coral-listers know, and as 97% of climate scientists agree, the
> predicted dramatic warming is indeed already happening. Over the last 30-40
> years, the oceans have been warming at ~0.13 C per decade. Have a look at
> the ocean heat content map in my post (also see Gleckler et al 2016).
> Chollett et al 2012 found that the Caribbean warming rate from 1985 to 2009
> was 0.27 °C / decade􏰀. Both geologically and physiologically, that is a
> pretty dramatic rate and degree of warming for a tropical marine ecosystem.
> That fact, combined with the extensive evidence of warming impacts on corals
> and reef ecosystems across the Caribbean (xxx), and indeed globally, clearly
> refutes the nonsense you and Mike are peddling (which is all regurgitation
> from the standard climate change denial websites like CO2 Science) that “THE
> As we all know, if it were only pollution, all the science on bleaching and
> temperature impacts wouldn’t exist (but it does) and isolated reefs, far
> from pollution sources would be “healthier” (but they aren’t). Reefs around
> the world isolated from pollution have lost just as much coral cover -
> obviously you can’t blame that on local people (they’re aren’t any!). That’s
> on us.
> Aside from this spatial pattern, Mike Risk’s follow-up argument that "the
> only logical explanation for the present decline in coral reefs is that of
> widespread pollution-"pollution” is only logical if one denies that ocean
> warming is already happening, e.g., if your’e unaware that the Caribbean has
> already warmed by at least 1C.
> Chollett I, Müller-Karger FE, Heron SF, Skirving W, Mumby PJ. Seasonal and
> spatial heterogeneity of recent sea surface temperature trends in the
> Caribbean Sea and southeast Gulf of Mexico. Mar Pollut Bull. March 2012.
> doi:10.1016/j.marpolbul.2012.02.016.
> Diffenbaugh, N. S. & Field, C. B. Changes in Ecologically Critical
> Terrestrial Climate Conditions. Science 341, 486 (2013).
> Gleckler PJ, Durack PJ, Stouffer RJ, Johnson GC, Forest CE. Industrial-era
> global ocean heat uptake doubles in recent decades. Nat Clim Chang.
> 2016;6(4):394-398. http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nclimate2915
> JB
> John Francis Bruno
> Professor, Dept of Biology
> UNC Chapel Hill
> www.johnfbruno.com<http://www.johnfbruno.com>
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