In an effort to better understand our microbiomes, scientists from NOAA’s Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory (AOML) took part in a massive global research collaboration known as the Earth Microbiome Project (EMP), which recently released the first reference database, or atlas, of microbes covering the planet. This guide, released online in Nature today, will allow scientists to collaborate on studies and catalogue microbial diversity at an unprecedented scale.
In a new study published in Environmental Health Perspectives, a team of scientists including researchers from NOAA’s Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory (AOML) explore the future risk of waterborne disease in a warming climate. Recently, the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) developed an interactive online tool that can be used to monitor coastal marine areas with environmental conditions favorable to Vibrio growth, aquatic bacteria that can cause human illness. The Vibrio Map Viewer is a real-time global model that uses daily updated remote sensing data to determine marine areas vulnerable to higher levels of Vibrio.
Coral scientists at NOAA’s Atlantic Oceanic and Meteorological Laboratory (AOML) are in the process of analyzing data that may shed light on the sub-lethal effects of sedimentation stress in coral larvae. Scientists recently conducted a series of lab experiments aimed at assessing the effects of Port of Miami dredge sediments on the larval performance of the Caribbean threatened coral Orbicella faveolata (also known as the mountainous star coral). Preliminary analysis suggests significant effects of sedimentation on both the survival and settlement of coral larvae.
Scientists found that microbes and their genetic material from land-based sources of pollution could be found in reef water and in tissues of corals. This could affect the genomics of the native microbial communities found in coral reefs, which can impact how corals thrive and survive. These new insights highlight an additional potential threat to corals from land-based sources of pollution in southeast Florida, where corals are already under existential threat from warming oceans and resulting coral bleaching, disease and mortality.
Coral scientists recently traveled to the Galapagos Islands to document coral reef health following the 2016-17 El Niño Southern Oscillation event (ENSO), which bathed the region in abnormally warm waters. Historically, these events have triggered coral bleaching and large-scale mortality, as seen in response to ENSO events of 1982-83 and 1997-98. Interestingly, these same reefs exhibited minimal bleaching in response to this most recent event. Scientists are determining whether this response is due to differing levels of heat stress, or an increased tolerance to warm water in the remnant coral communities.
The study, published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, measured changes in the reef framework in several naturally high-carbon dioxide settings near Papua New Guinea. For the first time, scientists found increased activity of worms and other organisms that bore into the reef structure, resulting in a net loss of the framework that is the foundation of coral reef ecosystems.
The new research published online August 10 in Nature Climate Change provides a stark look into the future of ocean acidification – the absorption by the global oceans of increasing amounts of human-caused carbon dioxide emissions. Scientists predict that elevated carbon dioxide absorbed by the global oceans will drive similar ecosystem shifts, making it difficult for coral to build skeletons and easier for other plants and animals to erode them.
Corals live and thrive by maintaining a careful balance between their growth rate and the rate of erosion. Scientists already know the projected increases in carbon dioxide in our global oceans, known as ocean acidification, will slow the rate at which corals build the hard calcium carbonate skeletons that are the foundation of their habitat. A new study published online today in PLOS ONE demonstrates that in naturally highly acidified waters, these coral skeletons will also face increased erosion from microscopic organisms, called bioerosion. The result is accelerated breakdown and loss of reef structures, and potentially the loss of essential habitat.
A new study published in the journal Nature Microbiology highlights how emerging, devastating outbreaks of Vibrio infection in Latin America might be linked to El Niño, a climate pattern that periodically causes surface temperatures to warm throughout the equatorial Pacific Ocean. A researcher with the University of Miami’s Cooperative Institute of Marine & Atmospheric Studies at NOAA’s Atlantic Oceanographic & Meteorological Lab was part of an international research team that used microbiological, genomic, and bioinformatic tools to demonstrate how El Niño provides a mechanism for the transport of disease from Asia into the Americas.
In a recent paper published in the Journal of Climate, scientists with NOAA and the University of Miami have identified how variability in ocean circulation in the South Atlantic Ocean may influence global rainfall and climate patterns. The study by researchers at NOAA’s Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory (AOML) and the Cooperative Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Studies (CIMAS) suggests that the South Atlantic is a potential predictor of global rainfall variability with a lead-time of approximately 20 years. This link between the South Atlantic Ocean and weather and climate could provide significant long-term insight for water management on a global scale.