Climate change is the greatest global threat to coral reef ecosystems. Scientific evidence now clearly indicates that the Earth’s atmosphere and ocean are warming, and that these changes are primarily due to greenhouse gases derived from human activities. Bleaching Pocillopora by José Carlos Espinel & David Harris uses Pantone’s 2019 Color of the Year “Living Coral” as a projection to show the bleaching of the coral with a revive in cycles mimicking (Great Barrier Reef) data of coral bleaching events – each revival never fully recovers. Over time, the cumulative bleach and revival cycles lead to a the permanent bleaching of the reef. The project was created with 3D printing technology, video, and paster casting.
Warmer water temperatures can result in coral bleaching. When water is too warm, corals will expel the algae (zooxanthellae) living in their tissues causing the coral to turn completely white. This is called coral bleaching. When a coral bleaches, it is not dead. Corals can survive a bleaching event, but they are under more stress and are subject to mortality.
As temperatures rise, mass coral bleaching events and infectious disease outbreaks are becoming more frequent. Additionally, carbon dioxide absorbed into the ocean from the atmosphere has already begun to reduce calcification rates in reef-building and reef-associated organisms by altering seawater chemistry through decreases in pH. This process is called ocean acidification.