Scientists found very strong evidence that aerosols from burning fossil fuels were affecting coral growth. In fact, these sooty particles can cool sea surface temperatures and limit the size of reefs.However scientists suggested that this chilling effect could stop the corals from bleaching in warmer waters.
Coral reefs across the world are under pressure from a range of human impacts.This does not kill them but makes them much more likely to die. The recent discovery found that as well as the warming waters, fine particulates of different types are affecting reefs near Belize and Panama.
These aerosols consist of soot from burning coal, elements from volcanic eruptions and sulphates from fossil fuels. They circulate in the atmosphere and can block solar radiation and make clouds more reflective. In their study, the scientists examined records from coral skeletons, ship observations and climate models to compare coral growth rates from 1880 to 2000. They discovered that there was a correlation between increases in atmospheric aerosols and decreases in the growth rates of coral.
There was so much intense effect on the reefs that the researchers believe it usurps other factors.