Potential Coral Reef Structure Changes from Climate Change

by Kimberly Coombs

Coral reefs vary in structural architecture, meaning that the structure can be very complex or relatively simple. The more structurally complex a coral reef is, the more species diversity may be supported. The reef building corals that create the complex coral reef structures need to have a sustainable carbonate budget in order to continue the processes of accretion and erosion to build the coral reefs. These corals have been experiencing reductions in their carbonate budget; as a result, they have declined around the world. Continue reading

Projected Atlantic Hurricane Surge Threat From Rising Temperatures

by Tim Storer

The ability to accurately predict and prepare for weather changes in the 21st century will be an invaluable asset to nations and policymakers across the globe, and because extreme hurricanes have traditionally been among the most destructive weather patterns, prediction of their patterns/intensities is useful. Because it is so difficult to directly predict storm activity, researchers have sought to take a roundabout approach: first investigate connections between local/global temperatures and past hurricanes, and then use future temperature predictions to predict future storms. Because the high winds associated with hurricanes are so closely accompanied by increased sea levels, called surges, the measured levels are a good measure of hurricanes. In addition, the researchers note that surge levels have shown to be better than wind speeds at indicating the damage potential of hurricanes. In the United States, the greatest hurricane threats are usually tropical storms along the eastern seaboard, and these storms are the primary focus. It has been widely predicted that global temperatures are expected to rise in the upcoming century, and researchers have now found that global temperatures are a surprisingly effective indicator of storm surge levels (Grinsted et al. 2013). Additionally, it was estimated that there would be many more Katrina-scale events in the upcoming decades, by at least a factor of two. Continue reading