Coral Reef Alliance
- Marching Since: June 07, 2006
The Coral Reef Alliance is dedicated to protecting the health of coral reefs by uniting ecosystem management, sustainable tourism, and community partnerships. It is becoming increasingly clear that coral reefs are among those environments most threatened by global warming. An increase in sea surface temperatures, rising sea levels, and more frequent and severe storms are some of the effects of climate change that can damage coral reefs. This leads to declines in biodiversity, coastal protection and income from reef fisheries and tourism. It is not impossible to stop this phenomena if we act now. The Coral Reef Alliance would like to join the Virtual March to help create an educated public who is ready to act.
LIKELY IMPACTS OF CLIMATE CHANGE TO CORAL REEFS:
Coral Bleaching: Corals are extremely sensitive to temperature changes. Increased water temperatures, which may be linked to global warming, can cause mass coral bleaching. Bleaching occurs when coral polyps, stressed by heat or ultraviolet radiation, expel the symbiotic algae that live within coral tissues. When the algae are expelled, the coral appears white or bleached. These algae provide corals with most of their food and oxygen. Corals can recover after short periods of bleaching, but as the length and severity of the stress increase so does coral mortality. Coral bleaching events and subsequent reef mortality are expected to become more frequent as sea temperature increases.
Slower Coral Growth: Sea level is expected to increase in the range of 6 to 37.5 inches (15 to 95 cm) over the next century (IPCC, 2001). The vertical growth rate of coral is likely to be slower than this increase. As a result, corals will be deeper, receive less sunlight and grow more slowly.
The combined effect of deeper reefs and slower growth will cause two problems for coastal areas: 1) corals will not be able to protect the shore as effectively and wave energy could increase in strength; and 2) smaller reefs will produce smaller amounts of reef sediment which builds and
supports island land-bases.
Physical Damage to Coral Reefs: Increased coral mortality is expected as storm events and cyclones become more frequent and intense. Coral reef growth may not be able to keep pace with these destructive events.
Coral Mortality: Rising sea temperatures and sea levels and increasing frequency of storms will increase coral mortality and seriously endanger coral reefs, especially those already under stress. These climatic changes could become the proverbial straw that breaks the camel¹s back for reefs facing stresses such as poor water quality, destructive fishing and tourism impacts.