Concentrations of fine particles in the atmosphere that are generated by human activities shaped coral growth in the Caribbean in the latter half of the twentieth century, reports a study published online in Nature Geoscience. The findings suggest that aerosol-induced changes in regional climate are a key control on coral growth.
Lester Kwiatkowski and colleagues assessed the drivers of changes in coral growth at two sites in the Caribbean between 1880 and 2000, using observational data and model simulations. From 1950 onwards, variations in coral growth coincided with fluctuations in sea surface temperatures and incoming sunlight, in turn generated by the emission of anthropogenic aerosols. The researchers suggest that fine particles should be considered alongside greenhouse gas emissions and ocean acidification in projections of future Caribbean coral growth.