Subscribe free to our newsletters via your
. 24/7 Space News .

Natural climate change shut down Pacific reefs: study
by Staff Writers
Washington (AFP) July 5, 2012

A period of intense, natural changes in climate caused coral reefs in the eastern Pacific to shut down thousands of years ago, and human-induced pollution could worsen the trend in the future, scientists said Thursday.

The study in the US journal Science points to sea temperature fluctuations -- brought on by the same phenomenon that causes El Nino and La Nina events every several years -- as the main cause for the coral die-off near the Panama coast.

The reef shutdown began 4,000 years ago and lasted about 2,500 years, said the research led by the Florida Institute of Technology and including experts from China and France.

"We were shocked to find that 2,500 years of reef growth were missing from the frameworks," said lead author Lauren Toth of FIT. "That gap represents the collapse of reef ecosystems for 40 percent of their total history."

Researchers did their analysis by driving 17-foot-long (five-meter-long) hollow pipes into dead frameworks of the coral reefs along Panama's Pacific coast.

They pulled out cross-sections of the reefs, and using radiocarbon dating and mass spectrometry techniques they were able to see what they described as a period of "hiatus" in their growth.

An examination of reef records in Australia and Japan showed similar gaps in growth, which Toth and co-authors believe is due primarily to historical changes in a phenomenon known as El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO).

"For Pacific reefs to have collapsed for such a long time and over such a large geographic scale, they must have experienced a major climatic disturbance. That disturbance was an intensified ENSO regime," Toth said.

Very strong El Nino events, bringing higher sea temperatures across the east-central equatorial Pacific, would likely have caused the initial collapse of the Panama corals due to bleaching-related die-off.

This ENSO activity began some 4,200 years ago and peaked about 3,000 years ago. Frequent abnormalities in water temperature would have made it impossible for the coral populations to recover, the study said.

The past may offer a hint of what is to come in the future, with eastern Pacific coral reefs again on the verge of collapse, but this time the situation is made worse by human-induced climate change.

"Climate change could again destroy coral-reef ecosystems, but this time the root cause would be the human assault on the environment and the collapse could be longer-lasting," said co-author Richard Aronson of FIT.

"Local issues like pollution and overfishing are major destructive forces and they need to be stopped, but they are trumped by climate change, which right now is the greatest threat to coral reefs."

However, researchers are hopeful that the world will take measures to curb pollution, allowing the reefs -- which have already proven their resilience -- to recover once more.


Related Links
Water News - Science, Technology and Politics

Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News

EU underpays Madagascar for access to fish
Vancouver, Canada (SPX) Jul 04, 2012
Unfair and exploitative political agreements allow Europeans to eat fish from the plates of developing countries, according to a study led by University of British Columbia researchers. In the case of Madagascar, the European Union pays less than it did two decades ago while catching more fish. Since 1986, the EU's quotas for catching fish in Madagascar's waters have increased by 30 per ce ... read more

ESA to catch laser beam from Moon mission

Researchers Estimate Ice Content of Crater at Moon's South Pole

Researchers find evidence of ice content at the moon's south pole

Nanoparticles found in moon glass bubbles explain weird lunar soil behaviour

Fireworks Over Mars: The Spirit of 76 Pyrotechnics

Martian moon Phobos could be life clue

Exhumed rocks reveal Mars water ran deep

Houston Workshop Marks Key Step in Planning Future Mars Missions

ESA astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti set for ISS in 2014

Orion's First Test Flight Offers SLS a First Look at Hardware Operation, Integration

The Road to Space

NASA Unveils Orion During Ceremony

China open to cooperation

China set to launch bigger space program

Nation has long way to go as space power

An inspiring mission

ESA astronaut Andre Kuipers returns to Earth

First Annual ISS Research and Development Conference in Review

Three astronauts land on Earth from ISS in Russian capsule

ISS crew rests before return to Earth

ATK Unveils Unique Liberty Capability

Avanti Announces Launch Date for HYLAS 2 Satellite

Three Pratt and Whitney Rocketdyne RS-68A Engines Power Delta IV Heavy Upgrade Vehicle on Inaugural Flight

ULA Delta IV Heavy Launches Second Payload in Nine Days for the NRO

New Planet-weighing Technique Found

Innovative technique enables scientists to learn more about elusive exoplanet

Dramatic change spotted on a faraway planet

New Way of Probing Exoplanet Atmospheres

Expert defends China's rare earth policy

Running on empty

Deep-sea rare earths found in Japan

Toshiba fined in US antitrust case

The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2014 - Space Media Network. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement