@SEA

The Online Magazine of Sea Education Association

@SEA

The Online Magazine of Sea Education Association

Dr. Heather Page.

Dr. Heather Page co-authors study on oxygen loss on coral reefs

“I was excited to co-author this paper because it’s the first of its kind. Until now, no one has published research on hypoxia levels in coral reefs at this scale. There has been a gap in knowledge,”

By Doug Karlson | March 2023

SEA’s Assistant Professor of Oceanography Heather Page is the co-author of a ground-breaking study examining the effects of hypoxia, or low oxygen, on coral reefs around the world. The paper, “Increasing hypoxia on global coral reefs under ocean warming,” was published March 16th in the journal Nature Climate Change.

For the study, 22 co-authors collected data at 32 reefs located around the world, such as Okinawa, Taiwan, Australia, Panama, Florida, and Palmyra. For her part, Dr. Page deployed a SeapHOx autonomous sensor in Kane’ohe Bay, Hawaii while doing research as a PhD candidate at the SCOOBY Lab at UC San Diego’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography. She shared her data with the lab and lead author Ariel Pezner, who is now a postdoctoral fellow at the Smithsonian Marine Station in Florida.

“I was excited to co-author this paper because it’s the first of its kind. Until now, no one has published research on hypoxia levels in coral reefs at this scale. There has been a gap in knowledge,” said Page.

The researchers found that hypoxia is pervasive. 84 percent of reefs experienced weak to moderate hypoxia, and 13 percent experienced severe hypoxia. What’s more, using various climate change models, the researchers project that those numbers could increase to 94 and 31 percent, respectively.

“I was surprised to see how many reefs were suffering from hypoxia, it was pretty shocking to me,” said Page.

According to the paper, “as global temperatures continue to increase and marine heatwaves become more frequent and severe, low oxygen conditions on coral reefs are likely to become more frequent as a result of changes in oxygen solubility and biological oxygen demand. Given the essential role of oxygen in driving aerobic metabolism, hypoxia poses a serious threat to coral reef ecosystems and the humans that depend on them.”

“Global climate change has a huge impact on coral reef ecosystems. We’ve been studying the effects of warming and acidification for awhile, but only more recently have we considered the effects of oxygen loss.  Hypoxia can cause coral mortality and fish and other marine organisms to leave the reef, so it alters the overall reef ecosystem,” explained Page.

That’s important, because in addition to their value as rich and diverse marine ecosystems, healthy reefs protect shorelines and provide important economic value in terms of fishing and tourism.

“It’s not just a future climate change problem, it’s a problem today. Climate change is happening now. This is just further evidence of it in a coral reef environment,” said Page.

SEA’s Assistant Professor of Oceanography Heather Page is the co-author of a ground-breaking study examining the effects of hypoxia, or low oxygen, on coral reefs around the world. The paper, “Increasing hypoxia on global coral reefs under ocean warming,” was published March 16th in the journal Nature Climate Change.

For the study, 22 co-authors collected data at 32 reefs located around the world, such as Okinawa, Taiwan, Australia, Panama, Florida, and Palmyra. For her part, Dr. Page deployed a SeapHOx autonomous sensor in Kane’ohe Bay, Hawaii while doing research as a PhD candidate at the SCOOBY Lab at UC San Diego’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography. She shared her data with the lab and lead author Ariel Pezner, who is now a postdoctoral fellow at the Smithsonian Marine Station in Florida.

“I was excited to co-author this paper because it’s the first of its kind. Until now, no one has published research on hypoxia levels in coral reefs at this scale. There has been a gap in knowledge,” said Page.

The researchers found that hypoxia is pervasive. 84 percent of reefs experienced weak to moderate hypoxia, and 13 percent experienced severe hypoxia. What’s more, using various climate change models, the researchers project that those numbers could increase to 94 and 31 percent, respectively.

“I was surprised to see how many reefs were suffering from hypoxia, it was pretty shocking to me,” said Page.

According to the paper, “as global temperatures continue to increase and marine heatwaves become more frequent and severe, low oxygen conditions on coral reefs are likely to become more frequent as a result of changes in oxygen solubility and biological oxygen demand. Given the essential role of oxygen in driving aerobic metabolism, hypoxia poses a serious threat to coral reef ecosystems and the humans that depend on them.”

“Global climate change has a huge impact on coral reef ecosystems. We’ve been studying the effects of warming and acidification for awhile, but only more recently have we considered the effects of oxygen loss.  Hypoxia can cause coral mortality and fish and other marine organisms to leave the reef, so it alters the overall reef ecosystem,” explained Page.

That’s important, because in addition to their value as rich and diverse marine ecosystems, healthy reefs protect shorelines and provide important economic value in terms of fishing and tourism.

“It’s not just a future climate change problem, it’s a problem today. Climate change is happening now. This is just further evidence of it in a coral reef environment,” said Page.

North Pole Expedition

Five SEA Alumni Join Scientific Team in Research Voyage to North Pole

The Synoptic Arctic Survey is an international effort to collect physical, biological and carbon data from across the Arctic Circle from 2020 to 2022, and to detect ongoing climate change and its impact.

man-and-sea

SEA’s Evolution of Ocean Research

Today, Sea Education Association’s mission is clearly spelled out.  We are “a global teaching, learning and research community dedicated to the exploration, understanding and stewardship of marine and maritime environments.”

Jeff Schell

Dr. Jeff Schell Seeks to Unlock Mysteries of Vital North Atlantic Ecosystem

The paper, In situ observation of holopelagic Sargassum distribution and aggregation state across the entire North Atlantic from 2011 to 2020, was published last month is the online journal, PeerJ.

Dr. Heather Page.

Dr. Heather Page Co-authors Study on Oxygen Loss on Reefs

SEA’s Assistant Professor of Oceanography co-authored the ground-breaking study examining the effects of hypoxia, or low oxygen, on coral reefs around the world. The paper was published in the journal Nature Climate Change.

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s308

Follow S-308 Blogs (March 30 – May 14)

Students enrolled in Sea Education Association’s class S-308, Marine Biodiversity & Conservation, boarded the SSV Robert C. Seamans in Tahiti on March 30th. They sail to Honolulu, Hawai’i, arriving May 14th.

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Podcast: Stories at SEA

Tune in to Stories at SEA to join students and crew from Sea Education Association who completed a 4,700 mile voyage, sailing from San Diego, CA to French Polynesia while conducting oceanographic research onboard.

Wesleyan Student Reflects on SEA Program

Ostensen spent the semester abroad with the Sea Education Association, learned more about the environment, human civilizations, and their endless connections than she ever expected.

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Follow the Full Journey of S-307

Back in Mo’orea, where our story in French Polynesia began, we saw one part of our cyclical story come to a close. As the sun hid itself behind the basalt peaks, the students of S307 performed the Earth Monologues.