Longer Summers Are Killing Coral

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To the list of climate change’s victims, you can now add the suffering Gorgonia.

Scientists at Spain’s Higher Council of Scientific Investigation (CSIC) have discovered that lengthening summers in the Mediterranean are having dire effects on the familiar fan-shaped coral, as well as on many other kinds of marine invertebrates.

In a study published April 14 in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, they argue that for the Gorgonia and its kin, longer summers equal nothing short of mass death.

The climatological finding isn’t new. For years now, scientists around the world have recognized that global warming affects the seasons, triggering springtime events like the flowering of plants as much as six weeks earlier than normal, and pushing the arrival of fall ever further back in the calendar.

Lengthening summers have translated not just to more days of warm temperatures but more drought and wildfires as well.

What’s new is that the CSIC study, co-authored by Marta Ribes and Rafel Coma, suggests the phenomenon doesn’t just occur on land.

By focusing on the Gorgonia, one of the most emblematic and significant corals in the Mediterranean, Ribes and Coma have found that seas have their seasons, too