Desert dusts convert coral reefs into carbon storage

Posted: January 31, 2023 by oldbrew in atmosphere, Carbon cycle, dust, Ocean dynamics, research
Tags: ,

Australian coral [image credit:]

Professor: “this study actually contributes to more accurate accounting of carbon around the globe.” Nature’s carbon cycle continues to surprise researchers.
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An international study comparing data from Heron Reef and the Middle East’s Gulf of Aqaba has disproved the long-held theory that coral reefs only have the capacity to emit CO2, reports

The first-of-its-kind discovery is the result of an international study led by The University of Queensland which found that dust blown in from nearby deserts can convert coral reefs into CO2 sinks.

Professor Hamish McGowan from UQ’s School of Earth and Environmental Sciences said the discovery was made after researchers observed a correlation between influxes of CO2 and periods of increased dust concentrations in the atmosphere around the reefs.

“We were surprised at how significant a role dust accumulation played in switching coral reefs from a CO2 source to a CO2 sink,” Professor McGowan said.

“This process was previously thought to be impossible, but our research proves otherwise.

“We found that the build-up of dust in the traditionally low-nutrient and low-chlorophyll waters of the Gulf of Aqaba actually fertilizes and improves coral-growing conditions and photosynthesis in reef ecosystems.”

Professor McGowan said the results will allow for the development of more accurate carbon budgets for the world’s oceans.

“The process we have identified in this study actually contributes to more accurate accounting of carbon around the globe,” Professor McGowan said.

“This informs predictions of the impact of atmospheric carbon on climate and climate sensitive ecosystems such as coral reefs.”
. . .
The research establishes the causal controls on reef water temperatures, as opposed to previous predictions which were more focused on the correlation of global warming and coral bleaching.

Professor Lensky said these findings will allow researchers to correctly attribute the cause of, for example, extreme high water temperature events that result in coral bleaching.

“Our research, which included analysis of data collected at Heron Reef on the Great Barrier Reef, has confirmed the crucial role of local meteorology and the prevailing weather patterns in determining reef water temperatures,” Professor Lensky said.

Full report here.
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Earlier research: Dust in Earth system can affect oceans, carbon cycle, temperatures, and health (2010) – ScienceDaily

  1. JB says:

    Everything reported at is a surprise.

  2. saighdear says:

    Huh, more accurate accounting of carbon around the globe … one has to ask W H Y ? – yep, just something to do for the non-employ(able) academics, perhaps? Account for water, account for, um,… my mind never worked like that – that’s why I grow crops and fix things for people, put out their fires, even. …. um, People, even? like windows 10, ‘working on it’

  3. brianrlcatt says:

    Is it just me that sees the pointlessnes of this “science”. Who fundded that, then? Why? In the words of 1. Eddie Cochran “Who Cares” and 2. of Steve Marriot “What cha gonna do about it?”

  4. Curious George says:

    Aren’t coral reefs (CaCO3) always a carbon sink?

  5. catweazle666 says:

    Yes George, they are.
    But “climate scientists” daren’t admit that, they are peddling the lie that “climate change” is destroying the coral, thus contributing to the non-existent AGW.

  6. brianrlcatt says:

    But the coral is prospering, per direct studies of natural reality, and global temperatures have been quasi static for 24 years, per the best satellite data. So the climatists are wrong, in the facts of measured nature. Again. More people who understand, and know where the facts are, should simply refer others to the facts, and where to find them, suggest the obvious nonsense of exchanging opinions regarding matters of fact that have been observed by science, when they have never checked the data to validate their opinions with evidence, like so many climate “scientists”.

    The measured facts do not support the climate narrative. So it’s wrong. There is no alternative opinion of any measurable merit. Unless there is new and better data.

  7. brianrlcatt says:

    Who peer reviewed that? So presumptuous .

    Who says growing corals are a source to start with? THis publicity seeking fake science peddler. As Gorgeous George points out, rocks have been sequestering CO2 since it was there to sequester, Limestone, Chalk, etc., it’s what things do to grow. Even we sequester CO2.

    Hence why that CO2 has got dangerously low during ices ages, close to 150ppm plant extinction during the cold phase of recent ice age cycles. Funny I know that and these “experts” don’t. Have I missed something?

  8. catweazle666 says:

    Real “climate scientists” don’t need no stinkin’ data Brian, they much prefer their computer models.

    Face it, faced with having to choose between numbers derived from a £10 thermometer or a £100,000,000 computer game – sorry – model, which would YOU choose?

    And believe me, they really are that complacent.

  9. Phoenix44 says:

    OMG, when we stopped looking for signs of the Apocalypse, we saw something interesting!

  10. Phoenix44 says:

    “Our research…has confirmed the crucial role of local meteorology and the prevailing weather patterns in determining reef water temperatures,”

    I mean, seriously.

  11. brianrlcatt says:

    There are grants for this. That’s why they do it. Not a bad location to study in at taxpayers expense. No intention of ever doing a job that adds value and is not a burden on the taxpayers. Or where they might even get fired for being useless. Sorry, having their essential rights abused. The best way to end crap research is return to only paying OUR MONEY to Universities for the people who are actually clever enough to justify such an education and capable of original research. That would make a larger labour force available immediately, BTW. Most Universities now have become more like Teacher training colleges, where the inmates simply do craft studies they can repeat later for money in Nursing, Teaching, on building sites and in the Meeja, oh, and climate science/environmental studies, and their teachers/lecturers are all “Professors”.

    Where did they find so many “Professors”? Many debase the title, that once belonged to the brightest, established and eminent heads of Departments. Not any more.

  12. catweazle666 says:

    “There are grants for this. That’s why they do it.”

    Several years ago it was reported that a number of “research scientists” spent something like three years sailing all over the World measuring the temperature of the very deep oceans.

    They discovered that it was 4 degrees Centigrade – which coincidentally just happens to be the temperature at which water is at its maximum density.

    Nice work if you can get it!

  13. brianrlcatt says:

    Priceless! Can I use it? Pressure there is 400 Bar. on average. How does that change freezing point and density? I note the freezing point at oceanic average depth of 12,000 feet /3,700 metres hence c. 400 atmospheres is -3.5 C.

  14. catweazle666 says:

    Feel free, Brian!

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