Coral Reefs and Climate Change

This topic submitted by Paul Suprenand ( at 8:03 PM on 3/19/06.

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Tropical Field Courses -Western Program-Miami University

Coral Reefs and Climate Change


I. Introduction

A. Coral Reefs
B. Climate Changes vs. Environmental Changes

II. Stresses to Coral Reefs From Climate Change

A. Types of Stress and Potential Effects
B. Coastal Modification
C. Invasive Species
D. Global Warming
E. Coral Bleaching
F. El Nio-Southern Oscillation
G. Ocean Circulation Changes

III. Additional Challenges

A. Infectious Disease
B. Predation
C. Adaptation

IV. Present Coral Reef Conditions

A. Socioeconomic Implications
B. Bio-chemical Impacts
C. Anthropogenic Influences

V. The Future of Coral Reefs

A. Projected Models of Climate Change
B. Increasing Temperature Predications
and the Effects on Coral Reefs
C. Status of Coral Reefs in Florida and the Bahamas
D. Protection and Conservation

VI. Summary and Conclusions


Coral reefs encompass the greatest variety of marine organisms as compared to all other provinces of the worlds oceans. Organisms living on coral reefs benefit from, or utilize the structure for shelter, acts of reproduction and raising young and as a resource for food. The benefits of coral reefs are also garnered by humankind, both directly and indirectly. Coral reefs are an amazing and incredibly important part of life on earth. With climatic and anthropogenic influences coral reefs are showing signs of increased stress and have begun to decline in quality and/or die. It is estimated that all coral reefs will disappear in 30 years. The quality of life in the ocean and for coastal cities will be changed radically. Our course, Tropical Marine Ecology, will introduce (at least to me) the incredible ecosystems in Florida/Bahamas and surrounding waters. These ecosystems are impacted by global climate change and research is needed to direct resources, monetary and legislative, for conservation effects and resource preservation. As I support research at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, the question from the scientists is, "What can we save?" In my work I hope to support that question for the areas in Florida and the Bahamas.


Australian Institute of Marine Science. Status of Coral Reefs of the World: 2004; Status of Coral Reefs in the U.S. Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico: Florida, Flower Garden Banks, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, Navassa. Edited by Clive Wilkinson. Volume 2, Section 16, pgs 1-20

Darmiento JL, Slater R, Barber R, Bopp L, Doney SC, Hirst AC, Kleypas J, Matear R, Mikolajewicz U, Monfay P, Soldatov V, Spall SA, Stouffer R (2004) Response of Ocean Ecosystems to Climate Warming. Global Biogeochemical Cycles. 18:1-23

EPA (online) Climate Change, Wildlife and Wildlands: Case Study Everglades and South Florida.

Hughes TP, Baird AH, Bellwood DR, Card M, Connolly SR, Folke C, Grosberg R, Hoegh-Guldberg O, Jackson JBC, Kleypas J, Lough JM, Marshall P, Nystrm M, Paulumbi SR, Pandolfi JM, Rosen B, Roughgarden J (2003) Climate Change, Human Impacts, and the Resilience of Coral Reefs. Science. 301:929-933

Kleypas JA, Buddemeier RW (2001) The Future of Coral Reefs in an Age of Global Change. Internation Journal of Earth Sciences. 90:426-437

Shwartz M (2006) Marine Scientists Look to the Bahamas as a Model for Coral Reef Conservation. The Stanford Report.

Williams FP and Aronson RB (2004) Climate Flickers and Range Shifts of Reef Corals. The Ecological Society of America. 2(6):307-314

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