Highlights:

  • The World’s coral reefs are under threat from climate change
  • Scientists opined corals faces an “existential crisis” as sea surface temperature rises
  • The massively hit areas are South Asia, Australia, the Pacific, East Asia, the Western Indian Ocean, the Gulf and Gulf of Oman

The World’s coral reefs are under threat from climate change and many more will disappear if oceans keep warming, according to a report released on Tuesday. A study by the Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network (GCRMN), an UN-supported global data network, demonstrated that 14% of the world’s coral on reefs was already lost between 2009 and 2018, equal to around 11,700 square kilometers.

Scientists opined corals are struggling with an “existential crisis” as sea surface temperature rises. The report considered data for 40 years, 73 countries and 12,000 sites. The abrupt rise in warming is particularly damaging, occurrence scientists said that it is connected to human-caused climate change.

The study focused on 10 coral reef-bearing regions around the world and established that loss was mainly attributed to coral bleaching, which happens when corals, under stress from warmer water, expels the colourful algae living in their tissues, turning them white. The study emphasized that one such bleaching event in 1998 alone killed 8% of the world’s corals.

The massively hit areas are South Asia, Australia, the Pacific, East Asia, the Western Indian Ocean, the Gulf and the Gulf of Oman. The major reasons behind this phenomenon are overfishing, unsustainable coastal developments and declining water quality.

Paul Hardisty, who is the chief executive of the Australian Institute of Marine Science, voiced in a statement, “There are clearly unsettling trends towards coral loss, and we expect these to continue as warming persists.”

Earlier in August, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reported that the global ocean has warmed faster over the past century than since the end of the last deglacial transition, approximately 11,000 years ago.

The report added, while coral reefs cover less than 1% of the ocean floor, they sustain over 25% of the marine biodiversity that involves turtles, fish and lobsters, which fuels the global fishing industry. The reefs are accountable for around $2.7 trillion annually in goods and services, including tourism.

It continued that scientists found, there was around 2% regain among coral reefs 2019, screening they can be resilient when given respite from the siege of factors working against them. If pressure is reassured on coral reefs, they could flourish again within a decade to pre-1988 levels.

Recent attempts to support coral reefs involve a mitigation project off the coast of Caribbean nation Antigua and Barbuda called Ocean-shot. This project mimics the designs and shapes of natural reefs to facilitate opportunities for colonization by corals and other marine life.

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