p>The researchers say that more severe storms, by themselves, would probably not pose a large threat to reefs. "Corals are adapted to life in stormy seas. Even the vulnerable species are quite stable when they're young," says Dr Connolly. "They also tend to grow and mature quickly, so the species can recover before the next big storm arrives."
However, one effect of the increased production of greenhouse gases is an increase in the acidity of the ocean. This is likely to reduce the stability of coral reefs, and amplify the damage done by tropical storms in coming decades.
Moreover, other effects of global warming and human activity could impair reefs' capacity to bounce back from periods of high wave forces, say the researchers. These include episodes of unusually hot temperatures, which can cause corals' cells to become toxic ("coral bleaching"); and overfishing, which can deplete the fish that eat seaweeds and dead coral and keep the reef clear for the next generation of corals.
"Regardless of whether we think of more severe storms as a looming threat or just the ramping up of a natural cycle, one thing is certain," says Dr Connolly. "To predict how coral reefs will look under different future scenarios, and to plan accordingly, we needed to know exactly how wave forces impact who lives and who dies on the reef. These new models provide us with that essential tool."
Source:James Cook University
Page: 1 2 3 Related biology news :1
. Researchers use dirt to stay one step ahead of antibiotic resistance2
. Planning ahead: Having the healthiest baby possible3
. Good times ahead for dinosaur hunters, according to U of Penn scientists dinosaur census4
. Tsunami-damaged coral reefs should be left to recover naturally, say scientists5
. Hidden sponges determine coral reefs nutrient cycle6
. Marine conservation organizations team up to conduct Indonesia coral reefs assessment7
. Health of coral reefs detected from orbit8
. Scientists look to the Bahamas as a model for coral reef conservation9
. Tiny polyps gorge themselves to survive coral bleaching10
. Too much sugar not good for coral reefs11
. Sea corals trick helps scientists tag proteins