To help make life possible the earth is surrounded by a blanket of gases which keep the surface warm, due to greenhouse gas release (caused by burning fossil fuels and deforestation) this blanket is currently getting thicker, which alters the climate. Research indicates the climate change will greatly challenge these ecosystems in the next 100 years. The ocean comprises nearly 70% of the earth’s surface and has some of the most diverse and important ecosystems so it is a crucial influence on the climate. If current trends continue temperatures may increase by up to 5 degrees Celsius by 2100.
We can’t change the past emissions which will still have an effect on the future but we can try to STOP further changes. Everybody can help tackle this issue by changing their everyday activities. Here are some things which will help:
When corals lose the symbiotic algae (called zooxanthellae) living inside their tissue and supplying the coral with energy this leaves the coral transparent revealing the white coral skeleton underneath giving the ‘bleached’ appearance.
Coral can slowly recover from brief bleaching episodes although they then become more susceptible to additional pressure (including pollution, overfishing and disease), however high temperatures for long periods can cause coral death.
Whilst little is known about coral bleaching on a global scale, we do know that increases in ocean temperature contribute to bleaching episodes which have become more severe in the past few decades and are likely to re-occur more frequently in the future.
In Australia many volunteers help measure small natural fluctuations in the coloration of healthy corals to identify changes outside of the normal range.