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Gianna Gruen | Ideas

Sturdy corals defy global warming

So far, we’ve believed that reef-building corals around the world are hugely vulnerable to rising ocean temperatures and can suffer bleaching as a result. But, scientists recently discovered a coral species that can actually seem to adapt to warmer weather.

Not exactly Acropora hyacinthus, but another coral of the Acropora family (Photo credit: CC BY 2.0: Will Thomas/Forge Mountain Photography)

Not exactly Acropora hyacinthus, but another coral of the Acropora family (Photo credit: CC BY 2.0: Will Thomas/Forge Mountain Photography)

Remember your last trip to the sea? You probably recall how the water around you felt warmer the closer to the beach you were and colder the farther you swam out to sea. And while you can move from colder to warmer water and the other way round, corals cannot. They stay put in their surroundings. So, researchers decided to look at how the same coral species can deal with different water temperatures.

Along the coasts of American Samoa, coral Acropora hyacinthus lives and grows on the reefs. Water levels shift due to the tides, leaving the corals along the flatter beaches covered with less water during low tide. This water can be heated up more easily by the sun, periodically exposing the corals to a warmer environment.

Stephen Palumbi from the University of Stanford and his team collected both: Acropora hyacinthus corals from flatter areas and also ones from the deeper, cooler sea. Next, they put all the corals in so-called “stress tanks” where the scientists could deliberately alter water temperature.

When substantially heating the water in the stress boxes, the researchers made a crucial observation:  the corals collected from the deeper, cooler sea died. But the ones collected from those exposed to periodically warmer areas survived. They were already used to warmer temperatures and changing temperatures and thus able to adapt, researchers concluded.

Palimbo states in a video: “Now, the real hope for the stress tanks is to take them elsewhere in the Pacific and find other corals that are just as strong as the ones we found here in American Samoa.”

Date

April 24, 2014

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Global Ideas Reporter | Ideas

The climate-volunteers of Indonesia

What do you expect when you are visiting a climate protection project, supported by the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO)? I was pretty sure to find some supporting staff members who are well payed to do their green jobs. But what I found at Pangandaran, a bathing resort at the Southern coast of Java, was a lot more – a large number of Indonesian people are taking action themselves, as volunteers in the project. The motivations may be different, but all of them agree that something has to be done, sooner, not later.

Apip Winayadi is an activist for Sundanese Culture, he sees his task hidden in history:

Apip Winayadi, Environmental Activist from DW_Global Ideas on Vimeo.

When a terrible Tsunami rolled over the region in 2006, leaving more than 600 people dead, almost everything was destroyed. Mangroves had been ripped of the ground, coral reefs where smashed by the power of the wave. But also the livelihood of the whole population layed down, without any infrastructure or hotels tourism collapsed completely. But the catastrophe caused a new dawn with a lot of opportunities for the future, Encih Sarsih says. She is the principal of an elementary school here:

Encih Sarsih, Elementary School Principal from DW_Global Ideas on Vimeo.

The STREAM Project (Sustainable Tourism through Energy Efficiency with Adaptation and Mitigation Measures) focuses mainly on the support of renewable energies (in hotels or restaurants) and a rebuilding of the destroyed environment (reforesting mangroves or building up coral reefs). This is where most of the volunteers are involved, like Bapak Iwa, a fisherman and today also an environmental activist:

Bapak Iwa, Fisherman and Environmental Activist from DW_Global Ideas on Vimeo.

Author: Kerstin Schweizer /ke

Date

May 27, 2013

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