Preserving Coral Reefs

Coral reefs represent one of earths most diverse ecosystems, yet it is this very ecosystem that is in the most peril.  Over 30 percent of the species in coral reefs are being threatened in 2008.  One of the key threats is climate-induced coral bleaching and subsequent coral disease and mortality. This bleaching is often caused by higher surface ocean temperatures during the peak summer months.  The number of degree-days above normal has a large effect on the chance of bleaching.  Lowering the ambient water temperature by as little as 1 degree for the peak days is enough to reduce the number of degree-days substantially and improve the probability of coral survival each season.

Wave driven ocean pumps can be deployed in a linear array upstream from the target area to upwell cooler water into the mixed layer and reduce peak temperatures of surface waters. This cooler water advects onto the reef, protecting the reef from the highest temperatures that cause coral bleaching and subsequent mortality.  By deploying these pumps during the peak season each year, it is possible to locally manage this effect of climate change on high-value reefs, thereby preserving these reefs during the coming decades. Making these critical tools available to coral reef management authorities may determine the survival of these coral reef ecosystems in the years and decades to come, critical decades during which the reefs will be most at risk until mankind's greenhouse gas emissions come under control.  Once these benefits have been demonstrated through rigorous field testing procedures, we can scale these coral reef protection systems to cover extended reef areas spanning hundreds of kilometers, thereby protecting our reef ecosystems for decades to come and preserving these jewels of the earth for future generations.

To discuss in more detail how Atmocean’s technology might help mitigate coral reef bleaching, please contact our exclusive licensee Dr. Brian Von Herzen, [email protected]