Feb 23, 2016

El Niño is killing Earth's coral reefs

Maddie Stone
Photo: XL Catlin Seaview Survey
Photo: XL Catlin Seaview Survey

Last fall, marine biologists reported that we’re currently in the midst of one of the largest coral die-offs they’d ever seen, and the third global bleaching event on record. This week at the Ocean Sciences Conference in New Orleans, NOAA will offer its first big update on the situation. And it ain’t good. The strongest El Niño on record—which has led to elevated temperatures in the equatorial Pacific and in other tropical ocean basins worldwide—is prolonging the die-off. Based on ocean temperature forecasts for the coming year, NOAA predicts this bleaching event could extend well into 2017.