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Corals in the Andaman Sea

17 February 2010
Climate change

www.physorg.com February 15th … corals in the warm waters of the Andaman Sea in the NE part of the Indian Ocean have upset AGW alarmism that claims coral reefs will die out as the oceans become too warm – pointing their finger in particular at the Great Barrier Reef. The findings will be published on February 20th in the Journal of Biogeography. Corals are colonies of tiny animals that derive nutrients and energy from photosynthetic algae with which they live in symbiotic relationship, one and each relying on the other for their existence. The algae are sensitive to changes in the environment – which means the coral reef system is too. The algae, for example, are sensitive to light and temperature. An increase in sea surface temperature can cause problems, breaking down the coral-algae symbiosis. The hype calls this bleaching – although recent studies have shown that coral colonies can replenish themselves after bleaching events. Nevertheless, bleaching is all part of the scary AGW scenario so beloved of green journalists and activists. It is widely thought, somewhat like an echo chamber, that bleaching is about to destroy forever all the coral reef systems in the world – and it’s all our fault. However, it seems that as far as the Andaman Sea is concerned the hype does not neccessarily fit the facts as corals thrive in the region, in what are very warm waters, and in places where the tide goes out for hours each day, exposing the coral to the harsh tropical sun, wind, and drying air, precisely the situation they are not supposed to be adapted to. The reason for this, according to long research in the region, is that algae in the Andaman Sea has evolved to put up with these conditions – they are thermally tolerant. As an aside, the same species of algae has also been found in the Caribbean which is also extremely warm. While bleaching events are likely to kill off lots of coral it also seems possible that evolutionary quirks and adaptation may mean that although some parts of coral reefs may perish they will quickly be replaced by new species that will thrive in warmer waters. 

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