Heat WaveApril 13, 2016
MIT-WHOI Joint Program graduate student Hanny Rivera removes a tissue sample from a bleached coral on Jarvis Island in the equatorial Pacific. Anne Cohen’s lab received an NSF RAPID response grant to investigate biogeochemical and ecological impacts of the 2015-2016 El Niño, one of the strongest on record. When researchers visited the island in November 2015, ocean temperatures were 4°C higher than normal, which caused most corals to lose their symbiotic algae. The process, called “bleaching,” often results in the corals dying from starvation, but an estimated 80 percent of Jarvis corals were still alive. The researchers hope to return in May as El Niño conditions diminish to assess whether nutrient-rich waters of the Equatorial Undercurrent have sustained the corals and allowed them to recover.(Tom DeCarlo, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)
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