As we pass the numerous lookouts along the coast which reveal all three systems in spectacular, panoramic detail, it's worth reflecting on this World Class example of the interconnectedness we now know is a defining feature of our living planet. Permit me to explain.
There is another, less obvious way in which the Mangroves manage the Reef's diet.
We now know that this is not the only method by which the Reef "waters" the Daintree Rainforest. It is now clear that coral reef is capable of creating clouds in the sky above it to protect itself from the sun. You read correctly, research on the GBR has demonstrated the ability of coral reefs, as communities, to literally generate clouds in the sky above them using an ingenious chemical trick to dim the harmful rays of the mid-day sun during the hottest time of the year.
Here's how it seems to work; Due to the emission of a gas, Dimethyl Sulphide or DMS, by the coral's algal symbiont, the air above a reef becomes rich in sulphurous airborne particles which have a strong attraction for water. The water in the air quickly forms droplets around these microscopic cloud-seeds. This process of condensation releases heat which warms the air, causing it to rise. The rising air carries the droplets upward and fresh air is sucked in to replace that which has just risen. The fresh air picks up more and more DMS as it rapidly diffuses into the air from the water below. Soon, strong, condensation powered thermals begin lifting tons of water into the airspace above the reef. By mid-day the clouds have formed and the reef is spared the worst of the mutagenic attention of the tropical summer sun. These are truely biogenic clouds; weather created directly and for selfish purposes by a biological process. This is not an isolated example of this sort of phenomenon and it changes the way we now think about weather. These clouds, in due course, float into the hills of the Great Dividing Range and make their contribution to the hydrological budget of the costal rainforests. These processes lift unimaginable tonnages of water out of the Coral Sea and then sponge the water out of the air and onto the Rainforest. If you don’t get rain, you don’t get rainforest. Nor do you get rainforest nutrients being flushed out of the forests, through the mangroves and out to the reef and so on…
In reality, what we have here is not three different systems at all. Rather, what we have is three parts of one system. If fact, this is just a one example of what we now know to be a fundamental feature of the natural world. It applies to every living system regardless of scale---, from the microscopic to the global.