Thursday, January 24, 2008

Status of the Coral Reefs of the Caribbean

If you've come across a headline "Hurricanes and Global warming devastating Caribbean coral reefs", here's why. The IUCN and the Global Coral Reef Monitoring network just released The Status of the Coral Reefs of the Caribbean after Bleaching and Hurricanes in 2005, a long-awaited report compiled by dozens of scientists including myself. The report examines the impacts of the events of 2005 and long-term forecast for Caribbean reefs. The latter based in part on our ongoing work on the effect of climate change on coral reefs.

Here is take-home message, from the executive summary:

"This is a pivotal moment for the coral reefs. The world is already committed to some further warming due to past greenhouse gas emissions and the expected emissions from existing world energy infrastructure (Chapter 2). Thanks to more than a century of ‘committed warming’; events like 2005 are expected to occur more frequently by the 2030s. The only possible way to sustain some live coral on the reefs around the world will be to carefully manage the direct pressures like pollution, fishing and damaging coastal developments, and hope that some coral species are able to adapt to the warmer environment. However, a dramatic reduction in
greenhouse gas emissions in the next 20 years will be critical to control further warming and dangerously high CO2 levels that will probably reduce the robustness and competitive fitness of corals and limit the habitats for many other organisms living on Caribbean coral reefs."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I love coral reefs! Nice work!