"El Nino And It's Effects On Coral Reefs" What Is El Nino And How Does It Affect The Ocean?

1609 words - 6 pages

My topic is how El Nino influences and affects ocean life. My paper will inform you about research and studies being done on the affects of El Nino. It will discuss the consequence on marine organisms. But first it will introduce you to El Nino.El Nino is a disruption of the ocean-atmosphere system in the tropical pacific, yet it has important consequences for weather around the globe. It is caused by the relaxation of the trade winds in the central and western pacific that allows warm water to flow east and reduces upwelling in the eastern pacific. This drastically raises the sea surface temperatures and greatly reduces primary productivity in the eastern pacific.El Nino has a large effect on the coral reefs in the western pacific. When an El Nino occurs, it makes the water very warm in the tropics and also causes very low tides. Too warm of water is hazardous to the corals and can cause bleaching and the death of corals. This is very dangerous to the balance of the ecosystem. Coral plays a large and important part in lives of many cal organisms. They provide a home and nursery for almost a million fish and other species, many that we rely on for food. They are full of new and undiscovered biomedical resources that we have only begun to explore. They give protection to coastal communities from storms, wave damage, and erosion. Coral reefs also attract hundreds of thousands of divers and tourists to tropical coasts each year. These tourists play a vital role in the tropical tourism industry. If coral reefs are destroyed, it will have a chain reaction in the food web. This could have drastic affects on the future of the oceanResearchers in the tropical pacific noted in late June of '97 an increase in water temperature. In September they noticed a lot of bleaching occurring in the corals. "This year's bleaching is beginning to look severe," said Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary Superintendent Billy Causey. "In some spots we have seen as much as 70 percent of an area affected." (1)These researchers noticed that when temperatures rise, corals become increasingly stressed. When stress levels get too high, corals expel the symbiotic algae, or zooxanthellae (tiny one celled plants), which live within the thin layer of living coral tissue. Researchers have learned that these algae are important to the corals because they use photosynthesis to turn sunlight into food for their coral hosts. Because zooanthellae give corals their various rich colors, a coral without the zooanthellae looks colorless, or "bleached." Corals cannot thrive without these algae and become more vulnerable to the numerous coral diseases that affect coral reefs around the world.Temperatures above 86 degrees are common temperatures for bleaching to occur. However, these temperatures are only lethal if they last for a month or more. Data collected this summer from the Florida Institute of Oceanography's C-MAN buoys, which are positioned along the reef, show summer water...

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