Climate Change

Ebadon and Rising Seas: Building a Climate-Change Research Station

Gathering dead coral, which was used along with coconut shells as part of the cement for the building of the research station.
Gathering dead coral, which was used along with coconut shells as part of the cement for the building of the research station.

The distant northwestern Pacific island of Ebadon is one of the most pristine locations left on earth. It is also facing rapid and imminent destruction from increasing storm surge and overwash events driven by man-made climate change. The people of Ebadon, who contribute the least to climate change, will be among the first to be driven from their ancestral lands because of it.

Some of the coral bleaching that took place more than 90 metres before the ocean surface, in the Central Indian Ocean.

Ocean temperature rise caused coral bleaching at depths over 90m

In November 2019, researchers from University of Plymouth recorded unexpected evidence of coral bleaching more than 90 metres below the ocean surface. 

Describing their discovery as a "huge surprise," Dr Phil Hosegood, Associate Professor in Physical Oceanography at the University of Plymouth and lead on the project, said: "Deeper corals had always been thought of as being resilient to ocean warming, because the waters they inhabit are cooler than at the surface and were believed to remain relatively stable."

Corals in Palau did not suffer mass bleaching during the 2017 marine heatwave despite levels of heat stress and light intensity that were broadly equivalent to the conditions that led to mass bleaching in 1998 and 2010 at the same reefs.

Pacific coral reef shows increase in climate resistance

The ability of coral reefs to adapt to changing ocean temperatures is a pressing question in marine biology.  

Coral reefs are currently experiencing significant declines. These declines are primarily due to marine heatwaves, which lead to widespread coral bleaching and mortality. Understanding how coral communities can adapt to increasingly severe and frequent marine heatwaves is crucial for their survival in the face of climate change.

Retreating ice, caused by climate change, has exposed the rocky shoreline of Cape Rasmussen on the Antarctic Peninsula.
Retreating ice, caused by climate change, has exposed the rocky shoreline of Cape Rasmussen on the Antarctic Peninsula.

Deploying marine robots to boost climate change research

Scientists believe that the ice shelves under the sea ice hold the keys to further our understanding of climate change. Unfortunately, diving to such areas to explore them is impossible.

How, then, can we access these areas?

Scientist Xi Yu from West Virginia University may have found the answer. She suggests deploying a fleet of marine robots, controlled by a smart mothership, to reach these inaccessible depths and transmit back invaluable insights.

Over the course of decades, polluted and warmer waters have bleached and killed up to 95% of Florida's corals.

Florida's Coral Reefs Under Siege from Rising Temperatures

Florida's coral reefs, a vital marine ecosystem, have been under severe threat due to extreme ocean temperatures this summer. The coral reefs, besides being biodiversity hotspots, also serve as a protective barrier against coastal erosion and are a significant source of revenue through tourism.

Efforts to protect and restore these reefs have been ongoing for decades. Coral restoration, which involves planting coral fragments, has been a primary method employed by scientists.

seaweed
Seaweed at a North-Atlantic coast.

Unraveling the enigma of the Atlantic's seaweed blobs

Seaweed in the Atlantic

These sprawling masses of seaweed, often stretching for miles, have been observed in the Atlantic over the past few years. While such occurrences are not entirely new, their increasing frequency and size have raised concerns about their potential environmental impacts.

A recent in-depth exploration by BBC Future sheds light on the phenomenon, unraveling the complex factors behind the enigmatic seaweed blooms.

Great Barrier Reef at the Whitsunday Islands, Australia.
Great Barrier Reef at the Whitsunday Islands, Australia.

Great Barrier Reef narrowly escapes UNESCO World Heritage downgrade

Australia's Great Barrier Reef, a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1981, narrowly avoided a downgrade to the "in danger" status during a recent meeting of the World Heritage Committee. The decision was made despite the repeated warnings by experts about the escalating impact of climate change on the world's largest coral reef system.

Health profiles of the elkhorn coral greatly differed among five examined areas, but the coral samples in the Dry Tortugas thrived compared to all the other sites

Endangered corals show encouraging resilience

In the face of daunting challenges to our planet's coral reefs, a glimmer of hope emerges from Florida's coastal waters.

Scientists from Ohio State University discovered that the endangered elkhorn coral population in the Dry Tortugas National Park in Florida were highly resilient in its ability to adapt and thrive, despite adverse factors like climate change, pollution and disease outbreaks.