Sunday, January 25, 2015

Will efforts to save corals be overwhelmed by climate change?

As Oceans Heat Up, a Race to Save World's Coral Reefs

Laura Parker, National Geographic
JANUARY 15, 2015

MIAMI—Early one December morning, Chris Langdon, a biological oceanographer at the University of Miami, zipped up his wet suit and dropped overboard just off Key Largo to inspect a section of Florida's ailing coral reef. His living "laboratory," 15 feet down, is the size of several football fields. Last summer a large bleaching event turned much of the coral white.

Bleaching occurs when water temperatures rise or fall. Even a slight fluctuation can set it off. The result is dramatic and often fatal. The coral polyps expel their source of food—the algae that live within the coral and provide its vivid hues. Without food, the coral turns white and eventually dies.

Langdon's morning dive was part of his continuing work to understand the effects of climate change in the oceans, such as rising water temperatures and rising levels of acidity. He has focused on coral reefs because of their critical role in feeding the world's populations. (Can Miami Be Saved? Read the February issue of National Geographicmagazine.)

(Continued here.)

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