Ancient Corals Provide Insight into Reef Future
April 8, 2011
"Climate change is already widely recognized to be negatively affecting coral reef ecosystems around the world, yet the long-term effects are difficult to predict. University of Miami (UM) scientists are using the geologic record of Caribbean corals to understand how reef ecosystems might respond to climate change expected for this century. The findings are published in the current issue of the journal Geology.
The Pliocene epoch—more than 2.5 million years ago—can provide some insight into what coral reefs in the future may look like. Estimates of carbon dioxide and global mean temperatures of the period are similar to environmental conditions expected in the next 100 years, explains James Klaus, assistant professor in the Department of Geological Sciences, College of Arts and Sciences, at UM and lead investigator of this project.
"If the coming century truly is a return to the Pliocene conditions, corals will likely survive, while well-developed reefs may not," says Klaus, who has a secondary appointment in the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science (RSMAS), at UM. "This could be detrimental to the fish and marine species that rely on the reef structure for their habitat.""
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