Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Air pollution stunts coral growth

Date:
April 7, 2013
Source:
University of Exeter
Summary:
A new study has found that pollution from fine particles in the air -- mainly the result of burning coal or volcanic eruptions -- can shade corals from sunlight and cool the surrounding water resulting in reduced growth rates.

A new study has found that pollution from fine particles in the air -- mainly the result of burning coal or volcanic eruptions -- can shade corals from sunlight and cool the surrounding water resulting in reduced growth rates.
Credit: borisoff / Fotolia

A new study has found that pollution from fine particles in the air -- mainly the result of burning coal or volcanic eruptions -- can shade corals from sunlight and cool the surrounding water resulting in reduced growth rates.

Related Articles


Although coral reefs grow under the sea it seems that they have been responding to changes in the concentration of particulate pollution in the atmosphere, according to a paper published in the journal Nature Geoscience bya team of climate scientists and coral ecologists from the UK, Australia and Panama. Corals are colonies of simple animal cells but most rely on photosynthetic algae for their energy and nutrients.

Lead author Lester Kwiatkowski, a PhD student from Mathematics at the University of Exeter, said: "Coral reefs are the most diverse of all ocean ecosystems with up to 25% of ocean species depending on them for food and shelter. They are believed to be vulnerable to climate change and ocean acidification, but ours is the first study to show a clear link between coral growth and the concentration of particulate pollution in the atmosphere."

Dr Paul Halloran of the Met Office Hadley Centre explained: "Particulate pollution or 'aerosols' reflect incoming sunlight and make clouds brighter. This can reduce the light available for coral photosynthesis, as well as the temperature of surrounding waters. Together these factors are shown to slow down coral growth."

The authors used a combination of records retrieved from within the coral skeletons, observations from ships, climate model simulations and statistical modelling. Their analysis shows that coral growth rates in the Caribbean were affected by volcanic aerosol emissions in the early 20th century and by aerosol emissions caused by humans in the later 20th century.

The researchers hope that this work will lead to a better understanding of how coral growth may change in the future, taking into account not just future carbon dioxide levels, but also localised sources of aerosols such as industry or farming.

Professor Peter Mumby of the University of Queensland put the study in the context of global environmental change: "Our study suggests that coral ecosystems are likely to be sensitive to not only the future global atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration but also the regional aerosol emissions associated with industrialisation and decarbonisation."

The study was financially supported by a NERC grant, the University of Exeter and the EU FORCE project.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Exeter. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Lester Kwiatkowski, Peter M. Cox, Theo Economou, Paul R. Halloran, Peter J. Mumby, Ben B. B. Booth, Jessica Carilli, Hector M. Guzman. Caribbean coral growth influenced by anthropogenic aerosol emissions. Nature Geoscience, 2013; DOI: 10.1038/ngeo1780

Cite This Page:

University of Exeter. "Air pollution stunts coral growth." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 7 April 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130407133243.htm>.
University of Exeter. (2013, April 7). Air pollution stunts coral growth. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130407133243.htm
University of Exeter. "Air pollution stunts coral growth." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130407133243.htm (accessed October 24, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Friday, October 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Deep Sea 'mushroom' Could Be Early Branch on Tree of Life

Deep Sea 'mushroom' Could Be Early Branch on Tree of Life

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Oct. 24, 2014) Miniature deep sea animals discovered off the Australian coast almost three decades ago are puzzling scientists, who say the organisms have proved impossible to categorise. Academics at the Natural History of Denmark have appealed to the world scientific community for help, saying that further information on Dendrogramma enigmatica and Dendrogramma discoides could answer key evolutionary questions. Jim Drury has more. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Tornado Rips Roofs in Washington State

Raw: Tornado Rips Roofs in Washington State

AP (Oct. 24, 2014) A rare tornado ripped roofs off buildings, uprooted trees and shattered windows Thursday afternoon in the southwest Washington city of Longview, but there were no reports of injuries. (Oct. 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Dances With Wolves in China's Wild West

Dances With Wolves in China's Wild West

AFP (Oct. 23, 2014) One man is on a mission to boost the population of wolves in China's violence-wracked far west. The animal - symbol of the Uighur minority there - is under threat with a massive human resettlement program in the region. Duration: 00:41 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
E.U. Leaders Agree To 40% CO2 Emissions Cut By 2030

E.U. Leaders Agree To 40% CO2 Emissions Cut By 2030

Newsy (Oct. 23, 2014) The latest E.U. emissions deal calls for a 40 percent greenhouse gas cut, which leaders say sets Europe up to lead in climate negotiations next year. Video provided by Newsy
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:

More Coverage


Human Shadow Cast Over the Caribbean Slows Coral Growth

Apr. 9, 2013 Striking Caribbean sunsets occur when particles in the air scatter incoming sunlight. But a particulate shadow over the sea may have effects underwater. A research team has linked airborne particles ... read more

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