This mass bleaching event is the worst on record. Now scientists are hoping for hurricanes

by | Jun 27, 2024 | Science

Unprecedented ocean heat has triggered the world’s worst mass coral bleaching event on record – a coral massacre so severe, reef experts are looking to one of nature’s most dangerous and destructive forces to provide relief: hurricanes.Since January 2023, 72% of the planet’s reef areas have been bleached by heat stress, surpassing 65.7% during the last global bleaching event in 2014 to 2017, according to latest data from NOAA shared with CNN.Coral reefs in the Atlantic Ocean have been hit hardest, said Derek Manzello, coordinator for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Coral Reef Watch. “A well-timed tropical storm or hurricane can bring much-needed thermal relief to heat-stressed corals,” he told CNN.The bleaching is being driven by record-breaking ocean heat fueled by planet-warming pollution and boosted by a “super” El Niño, a natural climate pattern marked by warmer-than-average ocean temperatures in the tropical Pacific.Coral sheds its algae, which provides both its color and its food, when the water gets too hot for too long. This is called bleaching. If the water doesn’t cool down quickly enough, coral can starve and die.The same ocean heat suffocating these corals is also one factor behind the threat of an unusually active hurricane season, which could provide a form of salvation for the reefs in the form of cooler water, coral experts say.Hurricanes act like enormous ocean heat vacuums, feasting on warm water and moist air to strengthen. As they do, the storms help coo …

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[mwai_chat context=”Let’s have a discussion about this article:nnUnprecedented ocean heat has triggered the world’s worst mass coral bleaching event on record – a coral massacre so severe, reef experts are looking to one of nature’s most dangerous and destructive forces to provide relief: hurricanes.Since January 2023, 72% of the planet’s reef areas have been bleached by heat stress, surpassing 65.7% during the last global bleaching event in 2014 to 2017, according to latest data from NOAA shared with CNN.Coral reefs in the Atlantic Ocean have been hit hardest, said Derek Manzello, coordinator for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Coral Reef Watch. “A well-timed tropical storm or hurricane can bring much-needed thermal relief to heat-stressed corals,” he told CNN.The bleaching is being driven by record-breaking ocean heat fueled by planet-warming pollution and boosted by a “super” El Niño, a natural climate pattern marked by warmer-than-average ocean temperatures in the tropical Pacific.Coral sheds its algae, which provides both its color and its food, when the water gets too hot for too long. This is called bleaching. If the water doesn’t cool down quickly enough, coral can starve and die.The same ocean heat suffocating these corals is also one factor behind the threat of an unusually active hurricane season, which could provide a form of salvation for the reefs in the form of cooler water, coral experts say.Hurricanes act like enormous ocean heat vacuums, feasting on warm water and moist air to strengthen. As they do, the storms help coo …nnDiscussion:nn” ai_name=”RocketNews AI: ” start_sentence=”Can I tell you more about this article?” text_input_placeholder=”Type ‘Yes'”]
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