Differential impact of monsoon and large amplitude internal waves on coral reef development in the Andaman Sea

PLoS One. 2012;7(11):e50207. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0050207. Epub 2012 Nov 28.


The Andaman Sea and other macrotidal semi-enclosed tropical seas feature large amplitude internal waves (LAIW). Although LAIW induce strong fluctuations i.e. of temperature, pH, and nutrients, their influence on reef development is so far unknown. A better-known source of disturbance is the monsoon affecting corals due to turbulent mixing and sedimentation. Because in the Andaman Sea both, LAIW and monsoon, act from the same westerly direction their relative contribution to reef development is difficult to discern. Here, we explore the framework development in a number of offshore island locations subjected to differential LAIW- and SW-monsoon impact to address this open question. Cumulative negative temperature anomalies - a proxy for LAIW impact - explained a higher percentage of the variability in coral reef framework height, than sedimentation rates which resulted mainly from the monsoon. Temperature anomalies and sediment grain size provided the best correlation with framework height suggesting that so far neglected subsurface processes (LAIW) play a significant role in shaping coral reefs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anthozoa / growth & development
  • Anthozoa / physiology*
  • Calibration
  • Coral Reefs*
  • Ecosystem
  • Environment*
  • Floods
  • Geologic Sediments
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Islands
  • Oceans and Seas
  • Rain*
  • Seasons
  • Temperature
  • Thailand
  • Time Factors
  • Tropical Climate

Grant support

The study was funded by the PEOPLE-2007-1-1-ITN Marie Curie Action: CalMarO (Calcification by Marine Organisms, 215157), the German Research Foundation (DFG, Grant number: RI 1074/7-1, Ocean-Reef coupling in the Andaman Sea, ORCAS), and the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF, Grant number 03F0608B, BIOACID 3.2.3 Coral calcification in marginal reefs). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.