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Impacts of Climate Change on Coral reefs in the Caribbean Mrs. Marcia Creary.

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Presentation on theme: "Impacts of Climate Change on Coral reefs in the Caribbean Mrs. Marcia Creary."— Presentation transcript:

1 Impacts of Climate Change on Coral reefs in the Caribbean Mrs. Marcia Creary

2 Impacts of Climate Change on coral reefs in the Caribbean Climate Change: Impacts on the Caribbean June 15-17, 2007 Faculty of Social Sciences, UWI & Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre Marcia M. Creary & Loureene Jones Caribbean Coastal Data Centre Centre for Marine Sciences University of the West Indies

3 What are corals? The corals that form reefs are “hard corals” with skeletons of calcium carbonate. These “reef-building” corals are usually composed of many polyps (colonial) and have microscopic plants (zooxanthellae) in their tissues which provide some additional food for the coral by photosynthesis – thus reef-building corals need light and so grow close to the surface of the sea.

4 What are coral reefs? Coral reefs are large structures composed mainly of dead coral skeletons built up over thousands of years. The reef maintains itself by the continued growth of living corals

5 Climate change factors that affect coral reefs Sea level rise Increased sea surface temperature Reduced calcification rates Altered circulation patterns Increased frequency of sever weather events

6 Why do coral bleach? Corals go pale or white as a result of stress –Prolonged elevated sea surface temperatures. –High levels of UV light –Low light conditions –High turbidity, sedimentation –Disease –Variable salinity –Pollution

7 What is coral bleaching?

8 Mass Bleaching – a recent phenomenon 1997-1998 –Mass mortality of corals –16% of worlds reef destroyed 2002 –Great Barrier Reef and SW Pacific 2005 –Caribbean and Western Atlantic Status of Caribbean Coral Reefs after Bleaching and Hurricanes in 2005 and 2006. Special Report by GCRMN

9 Global trends in the extent and severity of mass bleaching. (IUCN)

10 Bleaching study in Jamaica August - October 2005 Jamaica and other Caribbean nations experienced prolonged high sea surface temperatures Jamaica experienced 5-6 weeks of exposure to higher than normal temperatures which resulted in widespread bleaching Funding was received from Reef Check International though NOAA to document the event. November 2005 to May 2006, Reef Check surveys with an additional bleaching component were conducted. Sites located in Negril, Discovery Bay, Portland, Port Royal and Portland Bight Protected Area were assessed twice. First to determine the extent of bleaching and second to assess level of recovery.

11 Observed bleaching Bleaching was first noted on the north coast of the island late August to early September and later manifested on the south coast in late September to early October. The effects of the bleaching episode were more pronounced on the south coast than on the north.

12 Thermal Stress (Degree heating weeks map – NOAA) Number of weeks of exposure to higher than normal temperatures.

13 Bleached coral populations at various sites around Jamaica Bleaching was observed at most sites. On the resurvey, up to 50% of the bleached corals had recovered. Sites exhibited varying degrees of bleaching from10 % to 95%.

14 Bleached corals Coral species bleached Montastrea annularis Montastrea faveolata Montastrea cavernosa Siderastrea siderea Diploria strigosa Agaricia spp. Millepora complanata Porites porites

15 Hurricanes Major hurricanes that have impacted Jamaica’s reefs include Hurricane Allen in 1980, Hurricane Gilbert in 1988 and Hurricane Ivan in 2004. Hurricane Ivan caused visible damage to coastal areas. Variable levels of damage were noted on the north and south coasts. In 2004 and 2005 (Dennis, Emily and Wilma) hurricanes passed south of Jamaica, as such reefs on the south coast have been hardest hit.

16 Other threats to Caribbean Reefs Coastal development Inland activities Over-fishing Destructive fishing practices Waste disposal Ship-based activities Physical damage

17 Can coral adapt to climate change? Adaptation –Genetic variability Acclimatization –Biochemical or physiological Range shift –Expand to the sub-tropics

18 What does this mean for the tourism and insurance industries? Shoreline protection Sand replenishment Water sport activities –Diving –Snorkeling –Swimming Food source Aesthetic, biodiversity

19 Thank you.

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