ABSTRACT: Recent, global mass-mortalities of reef corals due to record warm sea temperatures have led researchers to consider global warming as one of the most significant threats to the persistence of coral reef ecosystems. The passage of a hurricane can alleviate thermal stress on coral reefs, highlighting the potential for hurricane-associated cooling to mitigate climate change impacts. We provide evidence that hurricane-induced cooling was responsible for the documented differences in the extent and recovery time of coral bleaching between the Florida Reef Tract and the U.S. Virgin Islands during the Caribbean-wide 2005 bleaching event. These results are the only known scenario where the effects of a hurricane can benefit a stressed marine community.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 08/2007; 104(29):12035-9. · 9.68 Impact Factor