Climate Change Is Putting Fragile North Atlantic Coral Populations At Risk

2016-12-01T10:36:35+00:00 December 1, 2016|
A close-up of the scleractinian coral Lophelia pertusa at approximately 450 m depth. (Credit: NOAA Ocean Explorer)

(Click to enlarge) A close-up of the scleractinian coral Lophelia pertusa at approximately 450 m depth. (Credit: NOAA Ocean Explorer)

We already know that climate change-induced rise in ocean temperature and acidity has killed at least a quarter of the corals in the northern and central parts of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. It turns out these aren’t the only corals bearing the brunt of global warming.

(From International Business Times / by Avaneesh Pandey)– In a new study published in the latest edition of the journal Royal Society Open Science, a team of researchers revealed that deep-sea corals in the North Atlantic Ocean are now under threat from climate change-caused rise in average winter temperatures in Western Europe.

The researchers focused on the cold-water coral Lophelia pertusa — a species whose population is maintained by tiny, fragile coral larvae that drift and swim hundreds of miles on ocean currents. Using computer simulations that incorporated the effects of changing ocean currents, they found that changes in weather conditions — especially during winters — could drive larvae away from the weakly connected protected marine areas established to safeguard coral populations.
 
“We can’t track larvae in the ocean, but what we know about their behavior allows us to simulate their epic journeys, predicting which populations are connected and which are isolated,” lead researcher Alan Fox from the University of Edinburgh’s School of Geosciences said in a statement. “In less well connected coral networks, populations become isolated and cannot support each other, making survival and recovery from damage more difficult.”