Some corals decide they can deal with warming

Stanford graduate student Rachael Bay takes samples from an Acropora hyacinthus colony at the National Park of American Samoa. (Photo: Megan Morikawa)

Some corals adjusting to rising ocean temperatures, Stanford researchers say

Research led by Stanford scientist Steve Palumbi reveals how some corals can quickly switch on or off certain genes in order to survive in warmer-than-average tidal waters.

To most people, 86-degree Fahrenheit water is pleasant for bathing and swimming. To most sea creatures, however, it’s deadly. As climate change heats up ocean temperatures, the future of species such as coral, which provides sustenance and livelihoods to a billion people, is threatened.

Through an innovative experiment, Stanford researchers led by biology Professor Steve Palumbi have shown that some corals can – on the fly – adjust their internal functions to tolerate hot water 50 times faster than they would adapt through evolutionary change alone. The findings, published April 24 in Science, open a new realm of possibility for understanding and conserving corals.

“The temperature of coral reefs is variable, so it stands to reason that corals should have some capacity to respond to different heat levels,” said Palumbi, director of Stanford’s Hopkins Marine Station and a senior fellow at the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment. “Our study shows they can, and it may help them in the future as the ocean warms.”

Coral reefs are crucial sources of fisheries, aquaculture and storm protection. Overfishing and pollution, along with heat and increased acidity brought on by climate change, have wiped out half of the world’s reef-building corals during the past 20 years. Even atemporary rise in temperature of a few degrees can kill corals across miles of reef.

American Samoa presents a unique case study in how corals might survive a world reshaped by climate change. Water temperatures in some shallow reefs there can reach 95 degrees Fahrenheit, enough to kill most corals. To find out how native corals survive the heat, researchers in Palumbi’s lab transplanted colonies from a warm pool to a nearby cool pool and vice versa.

The researchers found that, over time, cool-pool corals transplanted to the hot pool became more heat-tolerant. Although these corals were only about half as heat-tolerant as corals that had been living in the hot pool all along, they quickly achieved the same heat tolerance that could be expected from evolution over many generations. Corals, like people, have adaptive genes that can be turned on or off when external conditions change. The corals Palumbi’s group studied adjusted themselves by switching on or off certain genes, depending on the local temperature.

These findings make clear that some corals can stave off the effects of ocean warming through a double-decker combination of adaptation based on genetic makeup and physiological adjustment to local conditions.

“These results tell us that both nature and nurture play a role in deciding how heat-tolerant a coral colony is,” Palumbi said. “Nurture, the effect of environment, can change heat tolerance much more quickly – within the lifetime of one coral rather than over many generations.”

Palumbi cautioned that corals’ heat-adaptive characteristics do not provide a magic bullet to combat climate change. They can’t respond to indefinite temperature increases and they could be compromised by stressors such as acidification and pollution.

Still, if it holds true for most corals, this adaptive ability could provide a “cushion” for survival and might give coral reefs a few extra decades of fighting back the harsh effects of climate change, Palumbi said.

The Stanford Woods Institute has supported Steve Palumbi’s study of climate change impacts on coral reefs through its Environmental Venture Projects seed grant program. Read more about Palumbi’s research.

For more Stanford experts on the biosciences and other topics, visit Stanford Experts.

-30-

70 thoughts on “Some corals decide they can deal with warming

  1. Oh noeessssss. Are they now going to be called climate denying corals? Why get alarmists adapt out of existence this easy?

  2. “Some corals adjusting to rising ocean temperatures, Stanford researchers “

    Interesting, but…

    do they also say that some corals do not/can not adjust to rising ocean temperatures?

    Of course, this assumes that the ocean temperature is rising.

    Do the Oceans have a feeever, too?

  3. The ocean temperatures are not rising, sorry to be a buzzkill. Unadjusted ARGO data shows this.

    Trenberth still cannot find his missing heat.

  4. “As climate change heats up ocean temperatures”… Really? By how much? It’s a big ocean. Do the math on heating billions of cubic metres of water say one degree Celsius. More than a few Hiroshimas of energy would be required…and apparently that would still not kill the coral.

  5. >>>have wiped out half of the world’s reef-building corals during the past 20 years.

    Is this correct? Seems like a large fraction.

  6. Sorry, by HOW much have surface waters warmed? Are we up to 0.1C yet? Poor little precious corals can apparently deal with 5C – not surprisingly, when temps change vastly more than that from summer to winter.

    Here in Oz we have a very active coral alarmism industry, even though some of the reefs in question are 30 degrees south. It will be a looooooooong time before Lord Howe Is (closer to Sydney than Brisbane in latitude) has the climate of the Philippines. Yet magically the reef is being threatened despite living in oceans that have a million times the heat capacity of the atmosphere.

    And then there’s the acid. Less “acid” than pure H2O, but somehow unbearable to these things.

  7. This is why corals are still with us after over 500 million years. They have survived hot house Earth and glacial killers, the Yucatan impact and the Bikini Atoll atomic bomb tests. Just give them a little time, add salt and water and voila! It’s worse than we thought! We must act then!

    Abstract
    Survival of high latitude fringing corals in extreme temperatures: Red Sea oceanography
    …….Results of observed seawater temperature revealed that coral species at Zaki’s Reef regularly experience 2–4 °C and 10–15 °C daily and seasonal temperature variations, respectively. Seawater temperature monthly means reached a minimum of 14 °C in February and a maximum of 33 °C in August. Monthly mean sea surface temperature climatology obtained from satellite measurements was comparable to observed seawater temperatures, while annual air and seawater temperature means were identical at 22 °C. Observed seawater temperatures exceeded established coral bleaching thresholds for extended periods of time, suggesting that coral species at this location may have developed a mechanism to cope with such extreme temperatures…….

    http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1385110114000240

    ——————————————–

    Abstract
    Coral Recruitment and Regeneration on a Maldivian Reef 21 Months after the Coral Bleaching Event of 1998

    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1046/j.1439-0485.2002.02773.x/abstract

    ——————————————–

    Abstract
    Doom and Boom on a Resilient Reef: Climate Change, Algal Overgrowth and Coral Recovery

    http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0005239#pone-0005239-g006

    Can I guess that those regenerated corals will produce some offspring more attuned to warmer water? If not then we really must act now and way back then.

  8. Corals are a hardy group in our resilient Earth. Sponges too. These are well established organisms which have survived dramatic climate change time and time again – long before we came on the scene. Let us play another record.

    Abstract
    Coral bleaching — capacity for acclimatization and adaptation
    ……….There is information that corals and their symbionts may be capable of acclimatization and selective adaptation to elevated temperatures that have already resulted in bleaching resistant coral populations, both locally and regionally, in various areas of the world. There are possible mechanisms that might provide resistance and protection to increased temperature and light. These include inducible heat shock proteins that act in refolding denatured cellular and structural proteins, production of oxidative enzymes that inactivate harmful oxygen radicals, fluorescent coral pigments that both reflect and dissipate light energy, and phenotypic adaptations of zooxanthellae and adaptive shifts in their populations at higher temperatures. Such mechanisms, when considered in conjunction with experimental and observational evidence for coral recovery in areas that have undergone coral bleaching, suggest an as yet undefined capacity in corals and zooxanthellae to adapt to conditions that have induced coral bleaching. Clearly, there are limits to acclimatory processes that can counter coral bleaching resulting from elevated sea temperatures, but scientific models will not accurately predict the fate of reef corals until we have a better understanding of coral-algal acclimatization/adaptation potential…………..

    http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0065288103460045

  9. As a SCUBA Instructor (hobby) I was diving around Thailand at the time of the last ‘Great Bleaching’ and saw the coral turn white and then gradually recover over the following couple of years. The bleaching was covered widely but the recovery not so much probably because it didn’t fit the meme.

    As an empiricist (but also an IT professional) this confirms the study above using my own visual observations.

  10. Gotcha! I have been told time and again by idiot commeters at the Guardian that the rate of ‘climate change’ was to fast for the corals. Now this!

    The researchers found that, over time, cool-pool corals transplanted to the hot pool became more heat-tolerant. Although these corals were only about half as heat-tolerant as corals that had been living in the hot pool all along, they quickly achieved the same heat tolerance that could be expected from evolution over many generations.

    You have been busted.

  11. These people are idiots….they just discovered a tide change

    If they would look in an inlet with a bay (shallow, hot) on one side, and deep ocean (cold) water on the other side….they would have “discovered” this twice a day

  12. Found it got it read it…
    They didn’t isolate or identify any gene…..it’s their WAG that it’s a gene

    Temperature just dictates with dino (zoox) is going to dominate…..

  13. “Corals are certainly threatened by environmental change, but this research has really sparked the notion that corals may be tougher than we thought,” said Stephen Palumbi,…..

    This sound very like phrases I have been hearing over the years about all kinds of climate changes and effects such as “scientist are surprised”, “unexpected result”, “contrary to” etc. The reason they they are allegedly ‘surprised’ is because they never countenanced anything else. A little natural history should un-surprise them in future I hope.

  14. They state, “that some corals can – on the fly – adjust their internal functions to tolerate hot water 50 times faster than they would adapt through evolutionary change alone.” That assertion is ridiculous. The ability to change is bult in by its evolutionary heritage.
    This coral has the ability adapt to changing environmental conditions *because of* evolution. That strongly implies that the current state of the climate, as well as its possible future, is not something out of bounds for these- and very likely most- life on Earth.

  15. I thought global warming had paused for the last 17 years. But not in the ocean ??

  16. It is typical that what is essentially good news has to be tempered to align with the consensus view of climate change/global warming/climate weirding. Coral in this experiment rapidly adapted to 95 degrees Fahrenheit water. Even if warming suddenly started following the IPCC’s script and the world rapidly warmed, most coral wouldn’t be exposed to water this warm. If these results can be attributed to other species and locations, a warming world won’t be catastrophic…but we read here that such adaptability is only a cushion for a few decades (a timeframe most humans can internalize), and they can’t respond to indefinite temperature increases.

  17. Brrrrrr. Let’s not forget the other coral killer – COLD WATER. It’s UNPRECEDENTED and we must act now.

    Abstract
    Severe 2010 Cold-Water Event Caused Unprecedented Mortality to Corals of the Florida Reef Tract and Reversed Previous Survivorship Patterns

    http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0023047#pone-0023047-g003

    ———————

    Abstract
    Coral bleaching following wintry weather

    http://espace.library.uq.edu.au/view/UQ:78539

    ———————

    Low temperatures cause coral bleaching

    http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs00338-004-0401-2?LI=true

    We have warm water corals and cold water corals. We have them deep and shallow too. I think they will be ok in the long run. We must act now to stop the freakin’ alarmism. I am sick of it.

  18. so- if corals can acclimate quickly, why did half the world’s coral die off from minor temperature change? Are they all different corals- gotta know!

  19. There are times when I wonder (and this is one of them) if Brian Aldiss was on to something when he wrote the Helliconia Trilogy and posited that the genetic history of a species, which is clearly encoded in its embryological development, permits an animal to undergo biological adjustment to cyclical environmental change.

  20. hunter says:
    April 24, 2014 at 4:41 pm

    They state, “that some corals can – on the fly – adjust their internal functions to tolerate hot water 50 times faster than they would adapt through evolutionary change alone.” That assertion is ridiculous. The ability to change is bult in by its evolutionary heritage.

    Thank you hunter. Nice and correct.

  21. “These results tell us that both nature and nurture play a role in deciding how heat-tolerant a coral colony is,” Palumbi said. “Nurture, the effect of environment, can change heat tolerance much more quickly – within the lifetime of one coral rather than over many generations.”

    Where is the nature in “nature and nurture”? When it comes to corals nature is all. Nurture is bat crap.

  22. Jimbo says:

    Nurture is bat crap.

    How can you say that?!

    There is plenty of nurture in corals. Mommy and Daddy Coral raise the little corals to be good offspring. They send them to Sunday school and make them learn the Bible. Little corals are encouraged to help old lady corals across the street.

    Don’t ever question scientists! Especially ones from Stanford. Chelsea Clinton went there, ya know. And she’s in line to be President some day.

  23. R2Dtoo says:
    April 24, 2014 at 4:51 pm

    so- if corals can acclimate quickly, why did half the world’s coral die off from minor temperature change? Are they all different corals- gotta know!
    ——————————————————————
    It is all a matter of reading comprehension and not holding preconceived thoughts. Note the first two reasons given for depletion, overfishing and pollution. Overfishing is probably the number one reason for coral depletion, while pollution from different sources is likely second. Warming waters and changes to ocean ph have not been proven to be detrimental.

  24. April 24, 2014 at 3:47 pm | Andrew says
    —–
    Exactly, Andrew … we have also all seen cnidarians exposed to direct sunlight at low tide, that ‘miraculously’ survive for another day, everyday.

  25. April 24, 2014 at 6:09 pm | goldminor says:

    [ … ] Overfishing is probably the number one reason for coral depletion, while pollution from different sources is likely second.

    Fish poop is the best coral food … no fish, no food, no algae controllers.

  26. Where on Earth do tropical ocean waters hit 86 degrees unless that water happens to be in an indoor heated swimming pool of a mansion owned by a billionaire ecowarrior.

  27. The worst pollution of all is that which forces the doctoring of otherwise good research, to comply with the global warming fraud, in order to obtain funding, & get published.

  28. The observationally documented unvarying fact of ~2,500 identified species of corals present in equatorial South East Asian reefs, and only a meager 400 species in total found on the Great Barrier Reef’s cooler more seasonally varying waters, with the species diversity and quality falling as latitude increases into cooler water conditions, should tell everyone pretty clearly to patently obvious truth that corals absolutely thrive in the warmest waters, and wither and die out in the cooler water.

    i.e. given AGW alarmists are simply making-up their ‘reality’ these days and reporting it as science, I’ll just pull-out an imaginary number from my unmentionable personal crevice too and say it’s about 14.7 quadragigazilllion times more likely for colder water to make corals fall in diversity and go extinct, than for an increase in water heat to do it.

    All that will occur is the higher diversity near the equator will radiate further south in its plantonic larval stage and settle well south of the tropics – AS WELL. And Great Barrier Reef species diversity and health would basically double over time.

    It’s quite the crisis.

    Plus too much diversity and increasing density of corals on the great barrier reef could cause crowding-stressed and a sharp rise in inter-polyp coflict! … oh, the humanity …

  29. Well who’d have thunk it; corals are hardy little critters that can survive and adapt.

    So it’s yet another study from the University of Stating The Bleeding Obvious (No F*cking Sh*t Department) then.

    Cheers

    Mark

  30. Some people value coral reefs, for their beauty, for their biodiversity, because they are the source of many starting points for anti-biotics, because they generate a significant proportion of the value of the annual global wild take fish products, because they protect coastlines from erosion, because they thereby protect coastal property values, and because they generate billions in tourism industry globally.

    Some people do not subscribe to any of these values and regard coral reefs with complete indifference, condescention or hostility. These positions are not bad in themselves. They merely reflect differing values.

    In relation to coral reefs, what do we know?

    (1) We know that coral reefs are under significant anthropogenic stress already and that this has caused widespread degradation of reef values I have listed above. In the very worst cases, former reefs are essentially algae-covered beds of rubble.

    (2) We know that individual coral reef species respond in six different ways to temperature variations, changes in ocean chemistry and other changes in ocean dynamics:

    (i) get on with it because the temperature variations do not constitute significant threshold events (examples from the present study).
    (ii) die
    (iii) get somewhat sick and fail to compete against other species.
    (iv) change behaviour, for example, shifting geographic ranges (up and down the water column, generally north or south depending on changes to water temperature regimes)
    (v) fail to reproduce or experience reduced reproductive success
    (vi) start trying to adapt by using intra-specific genetic selection.

    (3) We know that individual coral species have different sets of existing responses to water temperature regimes and that there are thresholds above and beyond which individuals of species will not survive.

    (4) We know that the tolerance range between species is significant.

    (5) Further, we know We know that individual coral species do not live in ecological vacuums. They are, inter alia, competing against each other for substrate, food and light. They also compete by allocating various amounts of energy they put into reproduction, reproduction strategies, and predation response.

    (6) All of above responses have been demonstrated. This is not surprising. It is what scientists (other than some creationist scientists) would tell you to expect from first principles.

    The issue is not whether corals will respond by adopting some or all of (1) through (5). They represent standard evolutionary principles.

    The issue is not whether coral species can adapt through genetic slection. They can and they will try to do so. But for that to happen (a) some of the individuals in a species will have to survive and (b) there needs to be time for genetic selection processes to occur.

    The issue is, therefore, the rate of changes in specific CO2-related environmental variables, whether there are synergies between the climate variables, such as temperature and chemistry, and whether there are synergies with these with other anthropogenic forcings currently affecting reef biodiversity, reef regeneration, and reef ecological systems.

    I note in the many of the posts above a very relaxed attitude about the current state of affairs with coral reefs and the various anthropogenic forces affecting them. This can only mean that most of above posters either (a) feel very confident that they have a thorough understanding of the risks involved in our current multifarious experiments with coral reefs and, therefore, that we have no need whatsover to be concerned, OR, (b) don’t put much value on the continued existence of coral reefs.

  31. dbstealey says:
    April 24, 2014 at 5:38 pm
    Mommy and Daddy Coral raise the little corals to be good offspring. They send them to Sunday school and make them learn the Bible. Little corals are encouraged to help old lady corals across the street.
    >>>

    Cool place = good
    Hot place = evil

    We all learned that in Sunday school … or was it Sesame Street? … well, one of those, so it goes without saying that the observations and empiricism are pretty solid stuff.

    But it is an interesting discovery that corals can switch environmental biochemical ‘modes’ and tolerance level. One might ask why can’t a tropical coral tolerate colder waters, too then? Or is the seasonal drop in photons with higher latitude what limits their range? The photosynthetic capacity of zooxanthellae algae seems to be the limiting factor on where they can exist rather than water temperature conditions alone. If so the clearer the water, the higher the latitude they would be able to live. So clearer offshore oceanic waters should therefore have more coral at a higher latitude than the more turbid continental margin waters. And that’s the pattern we do see.

    So light input and its depth of penetration seems to be the deciding factor and temperature is the less significant limitation. The rise in photon input with equatorial latitudes heats the water in stressful ways, for some coral species, but those increased photons also mean much faster food production by their zooxanthellae, and equates to a much faster stress and damage recovery rate.

    Which is to say, the higher photon flux actually equates to greater tolerance to temperature stress.

    Thus corals are far from ‘fragile’, hence why they’ve been around far longer than most other critters on earth.

    Plus we now know have measured that a coral reef recovers from Severe cyclone damage at about the same rate as a stripped rainforest stand does (about five years). On the contrary, the damage is observed to lead to an explosion in colonization and species diversity, than that diversity only decreases with time from the moment of disturbance.

    In other words, corals and coral species thrive and grow the most when extreme environmental shocks and drastic change occurs to the reef.

  32. I’m currently reading “Antifragile” by Nassim Nicholas Taleb, the abvoe article falls directly into the core of his idea.

  33. To most people, 86-degree Fahrenheit water is pleasant for bathing and swimming. To most sea creatures, however, it’s deadly.
    =================
    This is pure unadulterated nonsense. There is nothing unusual about 86F in shallow tropical water. One would expect to see dead fish and jellies by the millions if it was deadly. But you don’t. Life goes on without issue.

    For example, Indonesian waters are shallow. About 200 feet for thousands of miles. They get warm. For example, see below. April sea temps over 86F. Yet no reports of dead sea creatures floating on the surface. They should be dying in the zillions and floating to the surface as they start to decay. But they aren’t.

    http://www.seatemperature.org/asia/indonesia/banjarmasin.htm

    Banjarmasin Sea Temperature
    (Today) 25th Apr 2014
    30.6°C
    87°F

  34. Unmentionable says:
    April 24, 2014 at 10:27 pm
    In other words, corals and coral species thrive and grow the most when extreme environmental shocks and drastic change occurs to the reef.
    ===========
    we see the same pattern after global extinction events. an explosion of new species.

  35. Overfishing and pollution, along with heat and increased acidity brought on by climate change, have wiped out half of the world’s reef-building corals during the past 20 years.
    ===========
    overfishing (via nylon nets and dynamite) and river born silt from logging and agriculture are the main threats to coral. given the vast areas of coral and their remoteness it seems highly unlikely that 1/2 the corals have been wiped out. however, there are certainly large areas like the Malacca Straights where development and high runoff levels have caused problems.

  36. “corals should have some capacity to respond to different heat levels.”
    It is simpler than reason: it is a tautology.
    Any corals lacking capacity to respond to different heat levels have all been killed by different heat levels.
    Some people are mockingly accused of having a grasp of the obvious, but few have to work this hard to acquire and maintain that grasp.

  37. Andrew says:
    April 24, 2014 at 3:47 pm
    ………..
    Here in Oz we have a very active coral alarmism industry,……

    Here are a few things they don’t like to emphasize. About 90% of the decline in corals in the Great Barrier Reef over the last several decades is from cyclones and predation from crown of thorns starfish.

    Abstract – 2 October 2012
    The 27–year decline of coral cover on the Great Barrier Reef and its causes
    Tropical cyclones, coral predation by crown-of-thorns starfish (COTS), and coral bleaching accounted for 48%, 42%, and 10% of the respective estimated losses, amounting to 3.38% y-1 mortality rate. Importantly, the relatively pristine northern region showed no overall decline. …

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3497744/

    AS REPORTED IN THE NEWS.
    “The Great Barrier Reef has lost half its coral cover in the last 27 years. The loss was due to storm damage (48%), crown of thorns starfish (42%), and bleaching (10%) according to a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences today by researchers from the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) in Townsville and the University of Wollongong.”

    http://www.aims.gov.au/latest-news/-/asset_publisher/MlU7/content/2-october-2012-the-great-barrier-reef-has-lost-half-of-its-coral-in-the-last-27-years

    “”There are three main sources for the coral decline, one is storms, however 42% is attributed to Crown of Thorns Starfish – and just 10% due to bleaching.”

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-26183209

  38. Ocean acidification and ‘bleaching’ are less important in the Great Barrier Reef than we previously thought!

  39. climateace,
    One thing I know about the losses in the Great Barrier Reef is the alarmism centered around ‘hot’ seas. As I have shown the losses over the last 27 years have been caused (90%) bt tropical cyclones and star of thorns starfish. Only 10% from bleaching and even bleaching itself is not only a response to warm water. Other stresses can bring this on. My issues is mainly about global warming and hot water hysteria.

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2014/04/24/some-corals-decide-they-can-deal-with-warming/#comment-1621522

  40. Climateace,
    Here are a few of the issues you raised and SOME of them we cannot do anything about.
    ———————————————
    CAUSES OF CORAL BLEACHING & DESTRUCTION

    REDUCED SALINITY FROM FLOODS & HEAVY RAIN
    Abstract – 2003
    Effects of hypo-osmosis on the coral Stylophora pistillata: nature and cause of ‘low-salinity bleaching’

    http://cat.inist.fr/?aModele=afficheN&cpsidt=14833207

    —————

    SOLAR IRRADIANCE / ULTRAVIOLET LIGHT
    Abstract – 2004
    Exposure to solar radiation increases damage to both host tissues and algal symbionts of corals during thermal stress

    http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00338-004-0392-z

    —————

    CROWN OF THORNS (Starfish)
    Abstract – 2012
    Predator Crown-of-Thorns Starfish (Acanthaster planci) Outbreak, Mass Mortality of Corals, and Cascading Effects on Reef Fish and Benthic Communities

    http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0047363#pone-0047363-g005

    —————

    COLD WATER
    Abstract – 2011
    Catastrophic mortality on inshore coral reefs of the Florida Keys due to severe low-temperature

    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1365-2486.2011.02487.x/abstract

    —————

    VIRUSES
    Abstract – 2012
    Unique nucleocytoplasmic dsDNA and +ssRNA viruses are associated with the dinoflagellate endosymbionts of corals

    http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/ismej.2012.75

    —————

    NUTRIENT RUN-OFF / POLLUTION (Algal blooms)
    Abstract – 1992
    Eutrophication and coral reefs—some examples in the Great Barrier Reef lagoon

    http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/0043-1354(92)90228-V


    Abstract – 2009
    Sewage impacts coral reefs at multiple levels of ecological organization

    http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.marpolbul.2009.04.024

    —————

    INCREASED SEDIMENTATION
    Letters to Nature – 2002
    Coral record of increased sediment flux to the inner Great Barrier Reef since European settlement

    http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v421/n6924/abs/nature01361.html

    —————

    Abstract – 1996
    Coral bleaching: causes and consequences
    Elevated sea temperature, Solar radiation(including ultraviolet radiation), decreased sea surfacetemperatures and reduced salinity

    http://www.denix.osd.mil/nr/crid/Coral_Reef_Iniative_Database/Climate_Change_files/Brown,%201997.pdf

    ——————————————–
    MORE CAUSES OF CORAL BLEACHING, DAMAGE & DESTRUCTION
    ——————————————–
    • Low tide exposure
    • Bacterial infections
    • Under nourishment caused by a decline in zooplankton levels
    • Cyanide / dynamite fishing
    • Mineral dust from African dust storms
    • Tourism: sunscreen from tourists swimming, divers handling corals, boat anchors etc.
    • Coastal development and dredging
    • Fishing damage caused by careless handling of nets, lines
    • International seashell and aquarium trades
    • Plastic bags etc.

    http://biophysics.sbg.ac.at/reefs/ch3.htm

    http://seaworld.org/en/animal-info/animal-infobooks/coral-and-coral-reefs/longevity-and-causes-of-death/

  41. We have been diving in Tonga, Samoa, Fiji, Vanuatu and most other Island groups in the SW Pacific over the last 10 years. ALL of them have small shallow bay areas where the SST is high regardless of tide. By shallow I’m talking about 1 metre or less. The corals found in these areas are quite healthy, very small in size. You won’t find ‘reef building’ species there, but the health of the corals is quite evident and the SST is ‘hot’, usually well over 30C. Move away from these shallow areas and normal lagoon SST are found. There is no news in this to a diver. Corals are a lot more robust than many would imagine. Not good news for alarmists.
    Also had a chance to dive the Great Barrier Reef a few times. The southern end was a huge disappointment . Poor visibility being the reason. Chatting up the Skipper of the Dive boat and found this was normal. The water is so rich in nutrients from farming run off the plankton thrives and turbidity is the result. Other particulates from the run off smother many of the corals and while corals have the ability to ‘clean’ themselves some are overwhelmed and die. Don’t recall anyone blaming agriculture as a reason for this, wonder why.

  42. These corals are not only high and dry….they are way over 86 degrees
    …and if it rains, they are in fresh water

  43. To Peter Burmer:

    You need to remember that the total ocean heat anomaly change for 10^22
    Joules is of the order of 0.01 degree centigrade! Your chart fails to be relevant
    on the scale important to the corals of the post title, which is several degrees
    centigrade.

  44. climateace <—[heh] says:

    In relation to coral reefs, what do we know?

    (1) We know that coral reefs are under significant anthropogenic stress already…

    Thank you for that evidence-free assertion. You may sit back down now.

  45. dbstealey
    ‘climateace <—[heh] says:

    In relation to coral reefs, what do we know?

    (1) We know that coral reefs are under significant anthropogenic stress already…

    Thank you for that evidence-free assertion. You may sit back down now.'

    Why the rude, patronising comments? My post was straight down the line.

    There is not a single marine scientist in the world who would back a claim that coral reefs are not unders significant anthropogenic stress. Many of the stressors are well-documented. Some are contentious. Some are completely unarguable – except by reflexive patronising rope-a-dopes.

    REPLY: Your reputation precedes you, not only as a fake named person, but by examples of the hostility you vent towards others in this blog in previous comments you’ve made. Tough noogies if you are upset, in fact feel free to be as upset as you wish. – Anthony

  46. ‘Chris R. says:
    April 25, 2014 at 2:01 pm

    To Peter Burmer:

    You need to remember that the total ocean heat anomaly change for 10^22
    Joules is of the order of 0.01 degree centigrade! Your chart fails to be relevant
    on the scale important to the corals of the post title, which is several degrees
    centigrade.’

    You need to remember that:

    (a) The additional heat is not evenly distributed
    (b) That it is not necessarily average heat but occasional attainment of heat thresholds that are likely to have a significant biodiversity impact
    (c) That additional heat operating on healthy reefs is very likely to be different from additional heat impacting on unhealthy reefs.
    (d) That, along with changes in heat regimes, there are concomitant changes in CO2 related ocean chemistry. These may, or may not have synergistic impacts.

    We don’t actually know the answers. We are conducting an experiment to find out.

    REPLY: and who are “we”? – Anthony

  47. ‘Weather Dave says:
    April 25, 2014 at 12:11 pm

    Corals are a lot more robust than many would imagine. Not good news for alarmists.’

    What people ‘imagine’ is a difficult scientific benchmark.

    ‘Don’t recall anyone blaming agriculture as a reason for this, wonder why.’

    There are nutrient impacts. In addition, many Queensland coastal sub soils are highly acidic. When the soils are disturbed there are, from time-to-time, poor quality run-off as consequence.

    The stresses of agricultural run-off on coral reefs are well known and generally well-accepted. There has been significant government investment in supporting altered farming practices to limit, in particular, nutrient releases.

  48. ‘REPLY: and who are “we”? – Anthony’

    Fair question.

    My view is that marine scientists do not know what, if any, synergies there will be between the existing suite of anthropogenic stressors on coral reefs, changes in sea level, additional heat, changes to ocean fluid dynamics, – in particular shore dynamics – and changes to ocean chemistry.

    Maybe it will turn out all right in the end?

    REPLY: playing dodge I see. Lame – Anthony

  49. climateace says:
    April 25, 2014 at 8:01 pm

    Do you promise never to comment here again when I provide you with the name of a single marine scientist who does not think that all coral reefs are under anthropogenic stress?

    And even if they were, so what? They’ve adapted to much more extreme & rapid change in the past. Even the Looney Left SA has this:

    http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/designer-made-coral-reefs-could-survive-climate-changes-hot-seas/

  50. climateace says:
    April 25, 2014 at 8:31 pm

    One of the joys of this blog, where long have I lurked, is moderator comments, the more snide the better. Almost makes me wish I could read the comment. Almost.

    My impression is that, CAGW having failed epically, Warmunistas are thrashing about like a landed fish, looking for a new man-made disaster threat, all the while their gills bubbling white. If ocean acidification doesn’t fly, then maybe coral bleaching will. But it’s just another natural phenomenon.

  51. ‘Jimbo says:
    April 25, 2014 at 9:14 am

    climateace,
    One thing I know about the losses in the Great Barrier Reef is the alarmism centered around ‘hot’ seas. As I have shown the losses over the last 27 years have been caused (90%) bt tropical cyclones and star of thorns starfish. Only 10% from bleaching and even bleaching itself is not only a response to warm water. Other stresses can bring this on. My issues is mainly about global warming and hot water hysteria.

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2014/04/24/some-corals-decide-they-can-deal-with-warming/#comment-1621522

    There is an issue about how concerned we should be about the Great Barrier Reef. Hysteria is about as useful as comfortable and relaxed. IMHO we should ditch both.

    The good news is that they have developed a very effective injection to kill crown of thorns starfish. The real issue is that no-one seems to know what ecological or physical perturbations have resulted in this particular plague or whether changes to ocean heat and chemical regimes will promote larger and more persistent starfish plagues – just another large experiment.

    IMHO, the focus on bleaching is interesting and useful, but corals will respond to sub-bleaching thresholds as well as to changing chemistry. Whether they are calcite or aragonite fixers is an important consideration, for example.

  52. ‘sturgishooper says:
    April 25, 2014 at 8:32 pm

    climateace says:
    April 25, 2014 at 8:01 pm

    Do you promise never to comment here again when I provide you with the name of a single marine scientist who does not think that all coral reefs are under anthropogenic stress?

    And even if they were, so what? They’ve adapted to much more extreme & rapid change in the past. Even the Looney Left SA has this:

    http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/designer-made-coral-reefs-could-survive-climate-changes-hot-seas/

    I am not sure whether you are saying that they are not or whether you are saying that they are and that they will certainly survive the existing suite of anthropogenic stressors as well as the ones we are adding in terms of heat, chemicals and sea levels.

    As I have said several times, it is up to each individual to make a decision about he or she values coral reefs. Some people value them. Others do not.

    If people do value coral reefs, and the science is that they are already under various forms of anthorpogenic stress, the existing stressors are a legitimate concern for them.

    If they value reefs, consider them to be under various forms of stress, then adding heat stress, chemical stress and sea-level stress are legitimate causes for additional concern.

  53. If I have Anthony right, he wants to know which ‘we’ scientists don’t know the synergistic impacts of combining existing anthropogenic stressors and the new stressors of heat, chemistry and sea level. My failure to name them is regarded as ‘dodging’.

    Well, the problem with Anthony’s expectation is that that would be all of them. My view is that no-one knows. But perhaps Anthony can point out some scientists who do know about the impact of any synergies?

  54. ‘ sturgishooper says:
    April 25, 2014 at 8:39 pm

    climateace says:
    April 25, 2014 at 8:31 pm

    One of the joys of this blog, where long have I lurked, is moderator comments, the more snide the better. Almost makes me wish I could read the comment. Almost.’

    Quite.

    Still, back to the central issue: how much do we really know about the synergistic impacts of anthropogenic stressors and the additional stressors of heat, chemical change and sea-level rise.

    You appear to be very confident that the scientific answer is (a) well known and (b) that we can all relax.

  55. climateace says:
    April 25, 2014 at 8:50 pm

    I’m saying what I said. When I show you a marine scientist who isn’t alarmed by supposed threats to corals from man-made “stresses”, do you promise to quit commenting here forever?

    Can you back up your claim about not a single one, or not?

    As for my opinion, corals are not now under any more threats than they have been in prior warm periods during the past unusually cool three million years. They or their ancestors not only survived much warmer seas, but thrived in them. That’s an obvious fact, since we’re now in a cold epoch & corals have been around for hundreds of millions of years, for almost all of which the oceans have been warmer than now, indeed a lot of the time down right hot.

  56. climateace says:
    April 25, 2014 at 9:03 pm

    It is well known that corals have adapted to much more extreme conditions in the past. Now evidence is piling up that they are in fact easily adapting to whatever mild changes might be happening today. So, yeah, no worries, mate.

  57. The coral lifecycle is very dynamic and has developed a strong adaptation to changing sea level and living conditions.
    The larval stage of corals is planktonic for a period of about 1-2 weeks. When the larval stage is released from the coral, it is dispersed over a large area by floating around in the water column. At the end of this cycle, the larval stage attaches to the substrate. If conditions are good, the coral will grow and ultimately produce a colony. If condition are not good, the new coral will die. It is the early coral lifecycle which dispersed over large areas, will thrive under favorable conditions and not so much under unfavorable conditions. Therefore by floating around early on the larval stage is constantly able to establish a foothold under ideal conditions. If sea level rises, then the coral will establish themselves closer to shore or higher up in the water column. If sea level drops, new growth will establish itself further down in the water column. This dynamic lifecycle strategy allows corals to seek out ideal living conditions through time.

  58. John Reistroffer says:
    April 26, 2014 at 1:12 pm

    Also helps explain why bleaching isn’t catastrophic. Corals do it periodically naturally.

    Just more alarmist scare tactics.

Comments are closed.