Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Climate is changing the Great Barrier Reef

Date:
September 24, 2012
Source:
ARC Centre of Excellence in Coral Reef Studies
Summary:
Satellite measurement of sea surface temperatures has yielded clear evidence of major changes taking place in the waters of Australia's Great Barrier Reef over the past 25 years, marine scientists have found.

Aerial view of the Great Barrier Reef, Australia.
Credit: StrangerView / Fotolia

Satellite measurement of sea surface temperatures has yielded clear evidence of major changes taking place in the waters of Australia's Great Barrier Reef over the past 25 years, marine scientists have found.

Related Articles


The changes have big implications for the future management of the GBR and its marine protected areas say Dr Natalie Ban and Professor Bob Pressey of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies and James Cook University, who led the study with Dr Scarla Weeks from the University of Queensland.

"When we looked back at satellite data collected since 1985, we found evidence that most of the regions of the GBR are changing significantly, in terms of sea surface temperature -- especially in the southern part of the reef," Dr Ban, who is the lead author of a new scientific paper on the issue, says.

"Risk of coral bleaching increases with higher water temperatures. Across the whole reef we found water temperatures increasing by an average of 0.2 of a degree over a quarter of a century -- but the increase was significantly more in some areas.

"For example, off Rockhampton the water has warmed by about half a degree over the last 25 years."

The changes were also altering the seasonal patterns of water temperature at particular places along the reef, Dr Ban says. "In some areas summer is coming earlier and lasting longer; in others, both summers and winters are warmer than in the past. This all affects the sea life."

The research has revealed temperature conditions are dynamic, with warmer waters moving in both space and time -- posing new questions for the management of Green Zones and other protected areas which tend to be fixed.

"Some people think we ought to have the highest levels of protection for areas that are changing the least, so they remain as refugia to recharge the surrounding reef areas," Dr Ban says.

"Others argue the opposite -- that the greatest protection should be afforded to the most vulnerable areas.

"Others still argue that Green Zones and other types of restrictions should migrate geographically along with the climate -- that their boundaries should change gradually in line with trends in water temperature and reef biology.

"Our aim in publishing this paper on what is actually happening is to stimulate and inform this discussion, so that we can come up with the best and most flexible system for managing the GBR through what will undoubtedly be momentous environmental change."

The present Green Zones, where fishing is prohibited, cover the same temperature ranges as the whole reef, she says -- but the debate on what to do next is only now getting under way.

With a view to encouraging discussion, the team has put forward three alternative scenarios for how the temperature data can be used to design appropriate management strategies for protected areas.

"We need to understand what we are managing for, to have the best management plan," she explains.

Australia is recognised as a world leader in managing coral reefs, and was again leading global thinking about how to best manage them as waters warm and conditions change. "We hope that our research will also prove valuable to countries of the Coral Triangle who are trying to manage the world's centre of coral diversity through this challenging period," she says.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by ARC Centre of Excellence in Coral Reef Studies. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Natalie C. Ban, Robert L. Pressey, Scarla Weeks. Conservation Objectives and Sea-Surface Temperature Anomalies in the Great Barrier Reef. Conservation Biology, 2012; 26 (5): 799 DOI: 10.1111/j.1523-1739.2012.01894.x

Cite This Page:

ARC Centre of Excellence in Coral Reef Studies. "Climate is changing the Great Barrier Reef." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 24 September 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120924102506.htm>.
ARC Centre of Excellence in Coral Reef Studies. (2012, September 24). Climate is changing the Great Barrier Reef. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 27, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120924102506.htm
ARC Centre of Excellence in Coral Reef Studies. "Climate is changing the Great Barrier Reef." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120924102506.htm (accessed March 27, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Earth & Climate News

Friday, March 27, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Clean-Up Follows Deadly Weather in Okla.

Clean-Up Follows Deadly Weather in Okla.

AP (Mar. 26, 2015) Gov. Mary Fallin has declared a state of emergency for 25 Oklahoma counties after powerful storms rumbled across the state causing one death, numerous injuries and widespread damage. (March 26) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
At Least Four Dead After Floods in Northern Chile

At Least Four Dead After Floods in Northern Chile

Reuters - News Video Online (Mar. 26, 2015) At least four people have been killed by severe flooding in northern Chile after rains battered the Andes mountains and swept into communities below. Rob Muir reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Oklahomans "devastated" By Tornado Damage

Oklahomans "devastated" By Tornado Damage

Reuters - US Online Video (Mar. 26, 2015) Buildings and homes lay in ruins and a semi-truck gets flipped following a fierce tornado that left at least one person dead. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Tornado Tears Through Oklahoma Town

Tornado Tears Through Oklahoma Town

Reuters - US Online Video (Mar. 26, 2015) Aerial video shows the moment a tornado ripped across the town of Moore, Oklahoma, sending sparks flying. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins