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Science. 2003 Aug 15;301(5635):952-5.

Coral reef death during the 1997 Indian Ocean Dipole linked to Indonesian wildfires.

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Research School of Earth Sciences, Australian National University, Canberra, ACT 0200, Australia.


Geochemical anomalies and growth discontinuities in Porites corals from western Sumatra, Indonesia, record unanticipated reef mortality during anomalous Indian Ocean Dipole upwelling and a giant red tide in 1997. Sea surface temperature reconstructions show that although some past upwelling events have been stronger, there were no analogous episodes of coral mortality during the past 7000 years, indicating that the 1997 red tide was highly unusual. We show that iron fertilization by the 1997 Indonesian wildfires was sufficient to produce the extraordinary red tide, leading to reef death by asphyxiation. These findings highlight tropical wildfires as an escalating threat to coastal marine ecosystems.

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