An increase in sea surface temperature in the Leeward Islands does not spell well for Antigua and Barbuda’s coral reefs.
The Caribbean Regional Climate Centre’s (CRCC) Situation and forecast Preliminary data around Antigua and Barbuda indicate that sea surface temperature (SST) is likely to cause heat stress, leading to possible bleaching of the coral reef.
The outlook which covers the months of August to November shows that a watch is expected for the forecast period and a warning is likely, which means, at the very least, low-level thermal stress will take place and coral bleaching is possible.
Coral reefs are said to contain the most diverse ecosystems on the planet, they protect coastlines from the damaging effects of wave action and tropical storms, and they provide habitats and shelter for many marine organisms.
But as the heat increases and when water becomes too warm, corals will expel the algae living in their tissues, causing the coral to turn completely white and ultimately alter the ocean’s chemistry.
Meanwhile, in the rest of the region Heat stress is accumulating across some coastal areas of Cuba and the southern Bahamas.
Countries under watch in the Caribbean include the Cayman Islands, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, Trinidad and Tobago, the Virgin Islands and Panama.