The Win Win (Win Win?) Solution to
Protecting Coral Reefs
For protecting and restoring coral reefs, artificial upwellings are:
FAST to deploy and take effect
EFFECTIVE ecosystem-based approach
SCALABLE for global impact
SAFE for organisms and ecosystems
with CO-BENEFITS like boosted reef resilience
July 2023 had the highest sea surface temperatures on record, leading to massive coral bleaching events globally.
Artificial upwellings use eco-mimicry to cool coral reefs
A single upwelling unit can save approximately 1km² of coral reef area from thermal stress, bleaching, and disease, just like a natural upwelling.
They cost around 50k USD each and can be deployed quickly during thermal events, and stored on land when not in use.
Upwellings offer co-benefits beyond thermal protection
contain higher nutrient concentrations that increase community productivity and metabolism for reefs and their associated fisheries
have different microbial communities from surface waters, it can act as an inoculation against disease - both preventing and treating diseases in all reef organisms
remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere at a rate of ~250 tons annually
Environmental risks are low
Natural upwellings offer strong evidence for the positive effects of seasonal upwellings on coral reefs. With this natural analogue, we can reasonably expect that the risk to reefs are lower than the known extinction risk of doing nothing.