17 years of data and study of coral off the coast of South America which suffered badly in the 1997-98 El Nino has been analysed by revealing that the system took a long 13 years to recover. This news is startling but at the same time relieving as the recovery time although long on our terms, is very short on the terms of ecological systems around the world. This means that they will likely be able to adapt quite well to the changing climate as the years progress.
This is an important finding as coral reefs are thought to be home to 25% of the known marine species and thus are the foundation for marine life. If the reefs were slow to adapt then the entire marine ecosystem would suffer terribly with the predicted rises in temperatures across the world; and the knock on effect to the rest of the ecosystem would be devastating. The comparatively short temperature change registered around the time of the El Nino disturbance had a very large effect and thus suggests that the reefs are very susceptible to local changes, and while they can recover, we have to take great care to not push them so far that they cannot recover. This research and analysis has very important effects on how we consider our effect on the marine environment as we work towards fixing and mitigating the damage of climate change in the years to come.