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Friday, August 29, 2008

Study shows that Global Warming has devastating effects on coral reefs

Many coral reefs have been reduced to rubble, their collapse has also deprived fish of food and shelter. As a result, fish diversity has tumbled down by half in some areas, says the authors of the first long-term study of the effects of global warming-caused bleaching on coral reefs and fish.

The study focused mostly on reefs near Africa's Seychelles islands, north of Madagasca, which sustained heavy losses from bleaching in 1998.
"The outlook for recovery is quite bleak for the Seychelles," said lead study author Nicholas Graham, a tropical marine biologist at England's University of Newcastle Upon Tyne.

The study, in today's Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, predicts that isolated reef ecosystems like that around the Seychelles will suffer the most from global warming-caused bleaching events.

Warming Oceans

Small but prolonged rises in sea temperature forces the coral colonies to expel their symbiotic, food-producing algae, which is a process known as bleaching.
While the dying reefs, which turn ghostly white, may be able to recover from such events, many may not.
In 1998 an El Niño weather pattern sparked the worst coral-bleaching event ever observed.
Graham said that over 16% o the world's reefs were lost in 1998.



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