Wednesday, August 25, 2010

A year of extreme weather: Is more bleaching to come in the Caribbean?

This year, which is on pace to to be one the warmest years, if not the warmest year, in the instrumental record, has seen a number of severe heat waves like the intense event in Russia. 

The heat waves have not only been on land. I mentioned a few weeks ago that high ocean temperatures has led to widespread coral bleaching over the past year, including occurrences in the Central Equatorial Pacific and Indonesia.

More may be to come. This is the NOAA Coral Reef Watch bleaching outlook for the fall, based on current temperatures and an experimental long-term forecast. It calls for the possibility of "Alert Level 2" thermal stress, which in general tends to cause mass coral bleaching and some coral mortality (in reality: the response is highly variable in time and space). If the forecast is correct, observations of bleaching would probably start to happen sometime in September.

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