Cleaner Water Helps Corals Combat Climate Change
July 7, 2010
Intuitively, everyone already knows this, but a new study has confirmed that seawater free from pollution helps corals survive the impacts of climate change. Coral reef ecologist Robert van Woesik from the Florida Institute of Technology and his team demonstrated that as the waters around the Florida Keys warmed, the corals living in cleaner water continued to thrive while those in more polluted water suffered. Their findings provide evidence that policies around wastewater discharge and water pollution can help corals survive in warming waters.
van Woesik told FIT, "Regulating wastewater discharge from the land will help coral reefs resist climate change. In the face of climate change and ocean warming, this study gives managers hope that maintaining high water quality can spare corals."
The trouble, of course, is getting stricter regulations around wastewater discharge. Pollution that impacts corals stems from a range of sources, including agricultural run-off -- the fertilizer from which can cause algae blooms that result in dead zones—stormwater run-off from roads and urban areas into coastal waters, and poorly managed wastewater treatment plants that allow effluent to enter the waterways. Keeping ocean water clean means strict requirements on land, which can be difficult, if not impossible, to form.
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