A new study shows nutrients can aggravate the already negative effects of climate change on corals to trigger mass coral bleaching.
Coral reef environments are typically low in naturally occurring nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorous compounds. But ocean currents passing by can bring in a concentration of nutrients from elsewhere. Similarly, nutrients from man-made fertilisers and stormwater runoff enter reefs from adjacent coastlines.
Lead author Dr Thomas DeCarlo from the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) says corals are sensitive to high levels of nutrients.
“As the climate warms, mass coral bleaching could occur as often as annually within this century,” Dr DeCarlo said. “In our study, we found that already heat-stressed corals exposed to excess nutrient levels were even more susceptible to bleaching.”
Continue reading at ARC Centre of Excellence Coral Reef Studies
Image via ARC Centre of Excellence Coral Reef Studies