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Picture of the Day

Bleaching of coral reefs reduced where daily temperature changes are large

Coral reef bleaching is stark evidence of the damage being inflicted by global climate change on marine ecosystems, but a research team has found some cause for hope. While many corals are dying, others are showing resilience to increased sea surface temperatures, pointing to possible clues to the survival and recovery of these vitally important aquatic habitats. To reach this conclusion, researchers said it was necessary to examine reefs more closely in terms of both space and time, versus relying solely on satellite remote-sensing products. The collaborators analyzed decades' worth of field data collected at 118 locations spanning five coral reef regions around the world, including the Great Barrier Reef near Australia and sites in the Indian Ocean, Pacific Ocean, Caribbean Sea and the Red Sea. The team found that in reef locations with more high-frequency temperature variability -- water temperature spiking during the day and dropping at night, day in and day out -- severe bleaching was less likely to occur. The research should lead to scientists having a better way to predict the outcome of coral reef bleaching events, which can lead to better conservation strategies.

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