For some reason, coral reefs have been experiencing unsettling changes globally. Everyone is hard pressed for a credible explanation I have no particular explanation either, but is seems to me that the one other oceanic phenomena that is big enough and also conforms to the time frames is the advent of large patches of dead zones brought on by the out flow of excess nutrients from modern farming. It will be much more complicated than that and we do not have the resolution needed to establish clear direct linkages.
It is still a good start and it follows in the event that these dead zone phenomena need to be tracked and clearly defined. A wandering tongue of sea water could be good enough to do the trick.
At least folks understand that losing reefs is not a good thing. My problem is that it is easy to do a lot about it. In an earlier post last year, I addressed the fact that it is possible to grow reefs from scratch at an accelerated pace. This was due to a discovery made by the late seventies by Dr. Wolfgang Hilbertz. He learned that by providing a source of electrons that calcium carbonate accretes out of sea water. This also provides a perfect framework for coral to grow and secure the structure.
He found that by merely dumping a mass of chicken wire woven through with graphite anodes (today perhaps with CNT yarn) it was possible to swiftly produce a living reef structure. His first prospect was to build out a great barrier reef off the coast in the Gulf of Mexico to arrest the chronic erosion.
The point that I am making is that it can be done, and with attention to good planning, in a cost effective manner over as many years as necessary. It is easy to imagine a fifty foot square built reef with an apron to prevent undermining. One can imagine a cell built system progressively charged with pumped sand to speed the building process itself. It certainly can be done and done very well. One may even get away with open channels full of water turbines if enough tidal surges exist.
The economic payoff would be huge in terms of new lagoon based fisheries and certainly make maintenance self sufficient. And a barrier reef outside of New Orleans would prevent a repeat of Katrina. It really is that easy folks. Wolfgang did some trials at resorts who could pay something for his expertise, but this is not rocket science and his original patents are long expired so it is public domain to use the know-how.
Some inventor needs to figure out how to continuously produce a fifty foot wide and yard thick wire based pad on a barge that is continuously lowered to the sea floor or on top of a previously placed pad that has coraled up.
Jun 15, 2009
Caribbean coral reefs flattened
The collapse of reef structure has serious implications for biodiversity and coastal defences – a double whammy for fragile coastal communities in the region.
It was already known that coral cover in the Caribbean was in decline, but this is the first large-scale study showing exactly what this means for the architecture of the region's reefs.
Published online on Wednesday June 10 by the peer-reviewed journal 'Proceedings of the Royal Society B', the researchers found that the vast majority of reefs have lost their complex structure and become significantly flatter and more uniform. The most complex reefs have been virtually wiped out.
The researchers, working with colleagues at Simon Fraser University in Canada, analysed changes in the structure of reefs using 500 surveys across 200 reefs conducted between 1969 and 2008. They found that 75 per cent of the reefs are now largely flat, compared with 20 per cent in the 1970s.
There have been two major periods of reef flattening. The first occurred when a widespread disease killed about 90 per cent of the Elkhorn and Staghorn corals in the late 1970s. The second period has been underway more recently and is thought to have been caused by an increase in the intensity and frequency of coral bleaching events, as a consequence of human-induced climate change increasing sea surface temperatures.
Lead researcher Lorenzo Alvarez-Filip, of UEA's School of Biological Sciences, said: "For many organisms, the complex structure of reefs provides refuge from predators. This drastic loss of architectural complexity is clearly driving substantial declines in biodiversity, which will in turn affect coastal fishing communities.
"The loss of structure also vastly reduces the Caribbean's natural coastal defences, significantly increasing the risk of coastal erosion and flooding."
Reversing declines in reef architecture now poses a major challenge for scientists and policy-makers concerned with maintaining reef ecosystems and the security and well-being of Caribbean coastal communities.
'Flattening of Caribbean coral reefs: region-wide declines in architectural complexity' by L Alvarez-Filip (UEA), N Dulvy (Simon Fraser University), J Gill (UEA), I M Côté (Simon Fraser University) and A Watkinson (UEA) is published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B on June 10.