Effects Of Coral Bleaching

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Introduction Climate change impacts coral reefs in a variety of ways. Coral bleaching is an increasing global phenomena that must not be undermined. The importance of coral reefs and the recognition of coral bleaching will be examined, along with the effects and impacts of climate change on coral bleaching. What are Coral Reefs? reword entire paragraph. Coral reefs are distributed in the shallow, sun lit waters of the tropics and subtropics. They capture the abundant sunlight, converting it into organic energy, which either flows directly through the ecosystem or is used to power important processes such as calcification (In Transition- Ove). Corals are composed of hundreds to hundreds of thousands of individual animals known as polyps…show more content…
These changes have occurred quickly, and the ecosystems are faced with a great challenge of adaptation (Ove). Coral bleaching has always occurred from environmental stresses such as temperature variation, salinity variation, pollution, overfishing, and so on (Chap 1). This means climate change is not the only contributing factor to coral bleaching, but it is gaining high recognition as the leading global scale contributing factor (chap 1). The main difference between the bleaching events in the past compared to now are localized events versus globalized events. The enhanced greenhouse effect has created an increase in the frequency and the size of coral bleaching occurrences caused from thermal increase (chap 1). These are known as mass bleaching events, this is where entire coral reefs are affected by coral bleaching and they are no longer only localized (chap 1). Mass bleaching events occur because the coral reef is exposed to higher temperatures over a longer period of time, rather than a short period of time, where corals can then recover (Ove). The length of time that a coral reef is exposed to a particular anomaly can be analyzed with “degree heating weeks, also known as DHW (Ove, 395). If the coral reefs are exposed with a value of less than 4 DHW’s then it is likely the coral will recover quickly, if the DHW value is over 12, the coral reefs will have devastating effects (Ove, 395). The DHW model calculates all hot spots over a 12 week period, whereas measuring just hot spot product is a measure of instantaneous heat (chap 4). The DHW shows where widespread coral bleaching occurs along with severity (Ove). When a value of 2DHW is given, this means that the hotspot is 1˚C warmer for 2 weeks, or 2˚C for 1 week (chap 2). Refer to Figure….to examine the global DHW

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