Coral bleaching event taking toll on region’s reefs


Corals such as this one on Mexico’s central Pacific coast have drawn scrutiny as scientists gauge the extent of coral bleaching around the world. (Photo courtesy of Paola Rodríguez Troncoso)

Sea-temperature increases driven by climate change and the compounding influence of El Niño have bleached coral reefs around the world—including in the Americas, where coral die-off in some areas has been extensive. In April, the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the International Coral Reef Initiative, a partnership of governments and organizations, declared a global coral-bleaching event, the fourth registered since 1998. Each event, which can last over a year as it reasserts itself in successive hot seasons, has been more widespread and damaging to corals. The latest event was detected in February of last year and spread to some 62 countries. Relief may be at hand in the Pacific as the El Niño climate pattern gives way to a likely transition to cooler water temperatures of La Niña. But NOAA forecasts a continuation of the fourth event in the Caribbean and the Atlantic... [Log in to read more]

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