Damaged Marine Life Could Take Thousands of Years to Recover from Effects...

Damaged Marine Life Could Take Thousands of Years to Recover from Effects of Climate Change


Earth’s oceans which have suffered greatly due to climate change are not likely to recover quickly. A recent research, led by Sarah Moffitt, a scientist with the University of California at Davis Bodega Marine Laboratory and Coastal and Marine Sciences Institute, has revealed that in order to recover from the effects of rapid climate change, Earth’s oceans may take not only hundreds but thousands of years. The study, published online in the journal PNAS, is the first to examine fossil records for evidence of distress and recovery of seafloor ecosystems in response to sudden and rapid climate change.

More than 5,400 invertebrate fossils, extracted from a sediment core taken from offshore Santa Barbara in California, have been analyzed by the researchers. The sediment core belongs to a period between 3,400 to 16,100 years ago and provides an idea about what happened before and after the last major deglaciation. The last major deglaciation led to a rapidly warming climate with rising sea levels due to melting of polar ice caps. It also resulted in an increase in areas of low oxygen in the oceans. As a result, a transition occurred from an environment of flourishing and diverse ocean ecosystems to a sharp decline in biodiversity.

According to Moffitt and her team, although the changes in sea floor ecosystems occurred rapidly due to climate change and the corresponding deoxygenation of sea water, recovery can take millennia. Moffitt stated “These past events show us how sensitive ecosystems are to changes in Earth’s climate—it commits us to thousands of years of recovery. It shows us what we’re doing now is a long-term shift—there’s not a recovery we have to look forward to in my lifetime or my grandchildren’s lifetimes.” She also added “It’s a gritty reality we need to face as scientists and people who care about the natural world and who make decisions about the natural world.”

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James Hailey a worshipper of life as it comes to him. He enjoys soft music while working on his latest manuscripts spread over his desk and his tablet on hand. His curiosity to observe everything around him and love for writing has propelled him to take up the job of a news journalist. Soon he realised, he enjoyed being at the back seat and editing all those news collected by others. He has been working as a lead news editor for both the digital and print media since the past 8 years. On his spare time he indulges in yoga to calm his hectic life style. He writes on Geology and Earth. Wmail : james@dailysciencejournal.com

  • Voodude

    Some corals bleach out, during prolonged periods of higher than normal temperatures.

    “A study by Hendy et al. (2003) documented two hiatuses in coral skeletal growth from the Great Barrier Reef (“GBR”) that were reliably dated to 1782-85 and 1817 AD, both times of El Nino conditions similar to those that caused extensive modern GBR bleaching in 1998.

    The existence of the GBR and other coral reefs today is testament to the fact that, however great may be the “instantaneous” damage wrought on a reef ecosystem by bleaching, recovery occurs in due course.”


    Hendy, E. J., J. M. Lough, and M. K. Gagan 2003 “Historical mortality in massive Porites from the central Great Barrier Reef, Australia: evidence for past environmental stress?.” Coral Reefs

  • Voodude

    Back in 1998, when we had the super El Niño, a lot of coral “bleached” and was thought to be lost. That was not so; bleached coral repopulated from nearby undamaged corals. Now, a recent study shows that isolated bleached coral can recover, perhaps not as fast as those with local “spare parts”, but can – and do – recover.

    “We found that on an isolated reef system in north Western Australia, coral cover increased from 9% to 44% within 12 years of a coral bleaching event, despite a 94% reduction in larval supply for 6 years after the bleaching. The initial increase in coral cover was the result of high rates of growth and survival of remnant colonies, followed by a rapid increase in juvenile recruitment as colonies matured. We show that isolated reefs can recover from major disturbance, and that the benefits of their isolation from chronic anthropogenic pressures can outweigh the costs of limited connectivity.”

    Gilmour, James P., et al. 2013 “Recovery of an isolated coral reef system following severe disturbance.” Science

    This copy starts at the bottom of the page, so you have to scroll down…