This summer has been the hottest on record — beating out 2015, which beat out 2014 — leading many to hit the beach and cool off. But are things really that much cooler there?
Not if you're a coral reef.
A new video gives us an unprecedented look at how coral is responding to the stress of climate change.
There is a symbiotic relationship between coral and algae. The coral gives the algae a place to live, while the algae clear away waste products, keeping the coral healthy and providing a source of food. But when waters get too warm, the coral kicks the algae out in a desperate attempt to regulate temperature. This 'bleaches' the coral and shows the white color underneath. While the coral does this in order to try to regulate the temperature, it also takes away the benefits from the coral. Unless the waters cool and the algae can come back, the coral can die.
Scientists have known about this process for a long time, as it's one of the main concerns for the future of the Great Barrier Reef, but they've never actually seen it happen before, until now.
A team of researchers from the Queensland University of Technology has released a time-lapse video that shows how the coral moves and contracts, expelling algae into the water. This was done in a controlled aquarium setting, by increasing the temperature of the water 11 degrees Fahrenheit over a 12 hour period of time.
By having a better understanding of how coral expels the algae, scientists might be able to come up with better solutions to protect them.
The video has condensed 2 hours of movement into just 22 seconds, showing how devastating the event can be.
Check it out: