Cloudy weather may have saved Society Island reef corals during the 1998 ENSO event

Mumby, Peter J., Chisholm, John R. M., Edwards, Alasdair J., Andrefouet, Serge and Jaubert, Jean (2001) Cloudy weather may have saved Society Island reef corals during the 1998 ENSO event. Marine Ecology - Progress Series, 222 209-216. doi:10.3354/meps222209

Author Mumby, Peter J.
Chisholm, John R. M.
Edwards, Alasdair J.
Andrefouet, Serge
Jaubert, Jean
Title Cloudy weather may have saved Society Island reef corals during the 1998 ENSO event
Journal name Marine Ecology - Progress Series   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0171-8630
Publication date 2001
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.3354/meps222209
Open Access Status DOI
Volume 222
Start page 209
End page 216
Total pages 8
Place of publication Oldendorf, Germany
Publisher Inter-Research
Language eng
Abstract During the 1998 El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) event, mass coral bleaching in French Polynesia was patchy at a scale of 100s of km. Bleaching was extensive in parts of the Tuamotu archipelago (creating up to 99% coral mortality) but extremely mild in the Society Islands (Tahiti, Moorea), ca 350 km to the south-west, despite sea surface temperature (SST) anomalies being of similar magnitude to previous years in which mass bleaching occurred. We examine whether environmental variables account for this unexpected paucity of bleaching using a 50 yr record of SST, a 17 yr record of daily wind and cloud cover, and a 17 yr record of monthly sun hours. Records from Tahiti reveal that exceptionally high cloud cover significantly reduced the number of sun hours during the summer of 1998. Quadratic discriminant analyses of annual bleaching occurrence based on up to 3 predictors (cumulative degree heating months, wind speed, and cloud cover during periods of elevated summer SST) only predicted the correct bleaching scenario for 1998 when cloud cover was added to the function. The results demonstrate that the interactive effect of cloud cover can reverse the bleaching predictions of such statistical models. We suggest that reduced radiative stress, resulting from high cloud cover, may have prevented large-scale coral bleaching in 1998.
Keyword El Nino-Southern Oscillation
Coral bleaching
Climate change
Sea surface temperature anomaly
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status Non-UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collection: School of Biological Sciences Publications
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Created: Tue, 23 Nov 2010, 14:36:31 EST