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Widespread coral bleaching threatens world’s reefs

fire coral

BEFORE AND AFTER  Healthy coral are full of color, like the fire coral seen on the left. But stressors, including overly warm ocean water, cause symbiotic algae to abandon coral tissues, bleaching them (right).  

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Corals across the globe are experiencing widespread bleaching from high ocean temperatures, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration states in its latest Coral Watch Report. Stressful conditions in the Pacific and Caribbean could last into early 2016. This is the third such global bleaching event in 17 years, NOAA notes.

Bleaching happens when corals get stressed. Overly warm water causes them to expel the symbiotic algae that give coral their color and are the corals’ major food source.

By the end of this year, NOAA predicts that nearly all U.S. coral reefs will have been subject to stressful bleaching conditions. The agency says global warming and this year’s strong El Niño are mostly to blame.

While corals can recover from mild bleaching, severe or long-term bleaching will kill them. If they do pull through, corals can be more susceptible to disease. Without corals, reefs — and the protections they provide other species and as storm barriers — disappear.

Planetary Science

Ancient Mars had long-lasting lakes of liquid water

By Thomas Sumner 2:00pm, October 8, 2015
New evidence gathered by NASA’s Curiosity rover suggests Gale Crater once contained a stable lake of liquid water.
Animals,, Evolution

Fish have had telescoping jaws for 100 million years

By Sarah Schwartz 12:45pm, October 8, 2015
Around 100 million years ago, fish developed a knack for extending their jaws to snare prey, and they’ve been perfecting this hunting technique ever since.
Health,, Neuroscience

Weight and sun exposure linked to onset of multiple sclerosis

By Sarah Schwartz 4:20pm, October 7, 2015
Among people with multiple sclerosis, those with higher body mass and lower adolescent sun exposure tended to be diagnosed with the disease at an earlier age, a new study suggests.
Genetics,, Chemistry,, Cancer

Chemistry Nobel honors studies of DNA repair mechanisms

By Sarah Schwartz 7:14am, October 7, 2015
Studies of DNA’s repair mechanisms have won Tomas Lindahl, Paul Modrich and Aziz Sancar the 2015 Nobel Prize in chemistry.
Particle Physics,, Cosmology

Discovery of neutrino mass earns 2015 physics Nobel

By Andrew Grant 6:41am, October 6, 2015
The discovery that subatomic particles called neutrinos have mass has won Takaaki Kajita of the University of Tokyo and Arthur McDonald of Queen’s University in Kingston, Canada, the 2015 Nobel Prize in physics.
Plants,, Animals,, Biophysics

Raindrops help pitcher plants trap dinner

By Sarah Schwartz 3:00pm, October 5, 2015
Pitcher plants use the force of falling raindrops to fling prey into their traps.
Plants,, Animals

Stinky seeds dupe dung beetles

By Sarah Schwartz 11:00am, October 5, 2015
Seeds that look and smell like animal poop can trick dung beetles into spreading and burying the seeds.
Health,, Biomedicine

Therapies against roundworm, malaria parasites win medicine Nobel

By Tina Hesman Saey 6:16am, October 5, 2015
The 2015 Nobel Prize in medicine or physiology was awarded to Youyou Tu for her work in counteracting malaria, and to William Campbell and Satoshi Omura for work on treatments against roundworm parasites.
Biomedicine,, Health

Sperm protein may offer target for male contraceptive

By Meghan Rosen 5:24pm, October 1, 2015
With the identification of a new sperm protein that helps sperm penetrate eggs, researchers may be closer to developing birth control pills for men.

Kavli Foundation gives more money for the brain

By Laura Sanders 5:01pm, October 1, 2015
The Kavli Foundation will provide $100 million toward solving the mysteries of the brain.
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