WASHINGTON — Since 1984, tropical waters in the Northern Hemisphere have been heating at a higher rate than other waters around the world, threatening coral reefs, scientists said Friday.
A team of scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association analyzed surface temperature data from satellites and found that the tropical waters above the equator are heating at a rate of 1 degree Fahrenheit per decade, 10 times the global rate.
The scientists think this may be why they have seen an unprecedented amount of coral bleaching, damage to the coral, over the past decade.
"The most troubling finding is the marked increase in the tropical waters of the Northern Hemisphere," said Alan E. Strong, who led the team. "If this trend were to continue, implicates for our coral reefs throughout these waters would be bleak."
Many invertebrates and other organisms essential to ocean ecosystems make their home in coral reefs, and coral bleaching can have far-reaching effects on ocean life.