[Coral-List] News article on reef erosion

Douglas Fenner douglasfennertassi at gmail.com
Fri Apr 26 21:18:07 UTC 2019

Thank you, very interesting.
     So if I understand correctly, in Florida,  dead corals are eroding at
about 5.5 mm per year, but the reef structure much slower.  Suppose the
reef was eroding at 2 mm a year.  The article says that the barrier reef is
disappearing.  How fast?  It would lose 2 meters in 1000 years.  If it is
one millimeter a year, it would lose 1 meter in 1000 years.  Is that an
immediate threat?  Well, maybe losing 10 cm might mean slightly larger
waves on the shore (???)  Would the difference in waves be detectable?
      I remember a geologist pointing out that there used to be, decades
ago, a good proportion of the people studying reefs who were geologists,
but now almost all are ecologists.  One possibility might be that the
number of ecologists studying reefs has grown a lot but the number of
geologists studying reefs hasn't grown much.  Why might that be?  Coral
reef ecosystems, the live organisms, at least the corals (and where there
is fishing, which is nearly everywhere, the fish as well) are threatened,
and threatened over a relatively short time span.  I think one prediction
is that the world might lose 80% of its reef corals within 20-30 years.
How long will it be before coral reef geological structures lose 80% of
their structure?  I suggest it won't happen any time soon.  Some atolls
have a vertical mile of reef carbonate.  How long would that take to
"disappear" if it was being eroded at even 5 mm a year?
      I think scientists need to study things because of curiosity.  And
geology has lots of interesting things to study, as does ecology.  This is
an interesting study.  But an important resource threatened over a short
time period attracts additional interest, because it is important.  I
suggest that has attracted more people to study the ecology.  That doesn't
seem like a bad thing to me, given the threats.  It seems natural.  If
ecologists are ignorant of geology, they do that at their own risk.
Geology provides long-term perspective, and understanding that what
ecologists study is ephemeral compared to what they study.  Reefs and the
world haven't always been exactly like they are today.  Understanding other
aspects of reefs could be very useful.  And it is good to have discussion
between people studying different aspects of reefs, surely, isn't it?
      Cheers, Doug

On Wed, Apr 24, 2019 at 3:51 PM Kuffner, Ilsa via Coral-List <
coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov> wrote:

> Greetings Coral List:
> Dr. Lauren T. Toth, Research Oceanographer with the U.S. Geological Survey,
> was interviewed  by Paul Voosen, a staff writer for Science Magazine, while
> working in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary last month. The news
> article highlights new and ongoing work on geologic processes on coral
> reefs, including erosion. Reef erosion results in loss of reef elevation
> and flattening of reef structure, both of which are essential for coastline
> protection and fisheries habitat provision.
> https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2019/04/scientists-track-florida-s-vanishing-barrier-reef
> ---------------------------------------------------------------------
> Ilsa B. Kuffner, Ph.D.
> U.S. Geological Survey
> St. Petersburg Coastal & Marine Science Center
> 600 4th Street South
> St. Petersburg, FL 33701
> Email: ikuffner at usgs.gov
> Tel: (727) 502-8048
> Fax: (727) 502-8001
> http://coastal.er.usgs.gov/crest/
> https://www.usgs.gov/staff-profiles/ilsa-b-kuffner
> http://orcid.org/0000-0001-8804-7847
> ---------------------------------------------------------------------
> _______________________________________________
> Coral-List mailing list
> Coral-List at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
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Douglas Fenner
Ocean Associates, Inc. Contractor
NOAA Fisheries Service
Pacific Islands Regional Office
PO Box 7390
Pago Pago, American Samoa 96799  USA

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