Scientists are cautioning that rising ocean temperatures may kill corals around the world. Global warming is to be blamed for the rising ocean temperatures and further changes could put the world's corals in danger.
Marine experts claim that an El Niño weather pattern has been developing in the past few months, raising ocean temperatures, which is not suitable for coral reefs. Coral bleaching has already occurred in many regions, which may kill-off corals in the coming decades. Coral bleaching results from the loss of algae that produces color in the corals. The loss of the algae then causes the coral to appear white in color and eventually results in its death.
Scientists reveal that the worst coral bleaching recorded in history happened during 1998. Experts reveal that global warming combined with an El Niño phenomenon caused sea temperature to increase, which resulted in the destruction of around 15 percent of the world's coral.
However, scientists claim that 2014 is worse than 1998 and overall temperature this year is higher than 1998. Scientists have also predicted that a mild El Niño will occur next year, which is not good news for world corals. Some coral reef experts believe that the next 6 to 12 months will have similar or worse effect on corals when compared to 1997 and 1998.
Dr. Mark Eaking at the University of Miami, who is also the coordinator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) Coral Reef Watch program, claims that a mild En Nino in 2015 may result in coral bleaching to continue till 2016. However, increasing ocean temperature due to global warming is a major cause for coral bleaching.
"Despite the fact that there's really not a big El Niño, we're seeing these patterns of severe bleaching. So what's happening is, as global temperatures increase and especially as the ocean warms through the increase of carbon dioxide and other heat trapping gases in the atmosphere, it's warming the ocean so that it doesn't take as big an El Niño to have the same effect on water temperatures," says Dr. Eakin.
Experts suggest that major coral bleaching is occurring in Marshall Islands, Kiribati, north-western Hawaiian Islands, Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands.
Scientists suggest that recovery from coral bleaching is possible but it can take several years. However, ocean temperature is rising at a constant pace, which is not allowing the corals to recover at all.