Coral Reefs may Acclimatize to Global Warming

Coral reefs have the ability to acclimatize to climate change, claimed Steve Palumbi, a marine biologist at Stanford University in California. The tropical Sun heats the water to a sizzling 35 °C in a shallow tidal lagoon off the coast of American Samoa for a few hours each day. But the Samoan lagoon still hosts courtyards of antler-like branching corals and mound corals the size of refrigerators. So, the question is how that could be possible without having got adapted to such temperatures.

Palumbi claimed that by learning how these Samoan corals are able to thrive despite such extreme conditions, he would be able to create a reef of hardy coral that could survive the seas that will become much hotter in future because of global warming. He and his team will endeavor to plant the smartest future reef ever imagined from August.

Palumbi is one of the coral researchers who have been trying to provide life to threatened reefs. The ultimate goal of his stint is to establish a program of human assisted evolution, creation of resistant corals in controlled nurseries and finally, planting them into areas that have been badly struck by climate change.

But the work has also created much controversy, despite the fact that no one is trying to create genetically modified corals.

But some researchers do not agree with the way the work is going to take place, thinking that human-assisted evolution is highly likely to alter natural systems. "If you're basically farming a reef, you've taken a natural habitat and you've converted it. It's like going to the Midwest and taking grasslands and making it into soy. There are huge implications to doing this", said Steve Vollmer, a coral geneticist at Northeastern University's Marine Science Center in Nahant, Massachusetts.

He said that a lot needs to be done before going ahead with such programs.