Scientists Looks at How Global Warming Is Hurting Cold-Water Corals

Changes in the environment cause corals to react. This is true for both tropical and cold-water corals, and involves variations in temperature, salinity, and pH levels, among other things.

Researchers from MARUM explored how rising temperatures caused by climate change influence cold-water corals in a study conducted by Dr. Rodrigo da Costa Portilho-Ramos.

They studied how these corals have reacted to environmental changes over the last 20,000 years for this aim.

Their research was published in the peer-reviewed journal PLOS Biology.

Cold-water corals on climate change


(Photo : LILLIAN SUWANRUMPHA/AFP via Getty Images)

Cold-water corals, particularly Lophelia pertusa, are the master builders of sophisticated reef structures. They lay the groundwork for vital habitats for deep-sea species that seek shelter and nourishment within the structures.

Coral reefs, on the other hand, are extremely susceptible to environmental changes.

Warming ocean waters, acidification, decreasing oxygen levels, and a fluctuating food source are among them, as per ScienceDaily.

Changes in any of these parameters, such as those caused by global climate change, can have an impact on the overall health of the coral reef.

As per the new study, it’s critical to know how well these coral environments respond to external changes in order to better safeguard them in the future.

Rodrigo da Costa Portilho-Ramos of the University of Bremen’s MARUM Center for Marine Environmental Sciences examined soil particles from six cold-water coral spots in the North Atlantic and the Mediterranean with his colleagues in order to recognize crucial factors that might trigger cold-water coral death rates and prevalence.

These sediments provide information that provides insight into historical environmental conditions.

This knowledge helps scientists to figure out when and why cold-water corals thrived or didn’t.

The findings might potentially be used to predict how corals will adapt to future climate change, according to scientists.

The study contrasts the occurrence of cold-water corals with changes in the most critical climatic parameters during the previous 20,000 years, the period of general global warming since the last ice.

Also Read: One of the Most Vibrant Coral Reef Systems in the World Faces a Dangerous Threat

Future stresses are predicted by ancient sediments

Cold-water coastal ecosystems are now classified as fragile ecosystems because they have been threatened by damaging fishing practices like bottom combing and dragged dredges, as per

Furthermore, future environmental changes in the seas owing to global warming are projected to harm these corals significantly, perhaps resulting in food shortages, decreased oxygen availability, and acidification.

However, because there is a complete absence of data recording local extinction episodes involving cold-water corals, it is impossible to anticipate how they will adapt to future climatic changes.

Cold-water corals act as ecosystem “engineers,” assisting in the creation of biodiversity hotspots in the deep sea.

Cold-water coral reefs provide vital ecological services by influencing food webs and nutrient cycles, acting as fish nurseries, and boasting outstanding biodiversity.

The findings of this study provide an important foundation for establishing knowledge-based management strategies for such deep-sea ecosystems in the future, especially in the face of climate change.

They also provide a substantial contribution to the aims of the Bremen Cluster of Excellence, which is dedicated to ocean floor research.

Related article: Air Pollution Threatening Coral Reef Growth

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