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Reef Report for Monday, January 5, 2009

Recent Research shows that Coral Growth Rates are slowing.
Is it due to Global Climate Change?

A paper published last week in the prestigious international journal Science and written by AIMS scientists Dr Glenn De’ath, Dr Janice Lough and Dr Katharina Fabricius is the most comprehensive study to date on calcification rates of GBR corals.

Their research points to a decline in the calcification growth rate of 13% since 1990. © Great Barrier Reef Enterprises Calcification is how much skeleton the coral puts down each year. Reef corals create their hard skeletons from materials dissolved in seawater, and the buildup of coral skeletons is what makes up the hard foundation of coral reefs the world over.

The findings reported in the paper are based on rigorous statistical analyses of annual growth bands from cre samples taken from 328 Porites corals from 69 reefs across the length and breadth of the GBR, and extending back in time up to 400 years. The data are from AIMS’ Coral Core Archive (ACCA), the most extensive collection or coral core samples in the world. Core samples show annual growth, with the thickness of of each years growth easily observed, much like the growth rings you see in trees.

We are very concerned about the effect of increased ocean temperatures and ocean acidity on coral health worldwide, and anything that shows growth rates of coral declining is worrisome, as that means corals are not as capable or regrowth and recovery. Whether that’s caused by the age of the coral, or some external factor we leave to the scientists, and will follow the discussion.

From Scientific American

News release from the Australian Institute of Marine Science

(C) DiveTheReef The weekly reef report is written by Joel Groberg of DiveTheReef.com, who compiles them from the many conversations he has with dive staff in the area, as well as  many other local sources in the dive community.

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