Sultry Year Threatens World's Coral

Widespread bleaching expected in weeks to come
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 21, 2010 6:33 AM CDT
Fish swim near coral reefs off Aceh Besar, Aceh province, Indonesia. Researchers warn that reefs, the "rainforests of the sea," are in danger of dying off.   (AP Photo/Heri Juanda)
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(Newser) – This year is set to be the hottest on record and scientists warn that could spell disaster for coral reefs. Reefs around the world are bleaching—expelling the algae that give them their color—on a scale only ever seen once before, in 1998. An estimated 16% of the world's shallow-water reefs died that year and researchers believe this year could be even worse.

Experts believe that global warming has made coral more vulnerable to year-on-year fluctuations in temperature. "It is a lot easier for oceans to heat up above the corals’ thresholds for bleaching when climate change is warming the baseline temperatures,” the director of NOAA's Coral Reef Watch program tells the New York Times. Summer is just beginning in the Southern Hemisphere and scientists fear that the Great Barrier Reef is in danger of significant bleaching. For more on coral reefs, click here.
(Read more coral bleaching stories.)

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