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Climate Change On Coral Reefs

Mar 2, 2008
The Coral reefs that are known and loved the world over are in danger of being killed off by the effects of Climate Change. The Coral Reefs are one of the richest places for Biodiversity, but they are also one of the most neglected. They are also a benefit to not only the sea creatures that inhabit them but the environment and people also, buy providing;

Shore protection from wave impact and storms.
Provide and abundance of food and medicine material and research
Helps the local communities by providing a tourism trade.

The loss of the coral reefs will have a catastrophic effect on communities that rely on them, many of which rely on fish and other marine life that shelter in the reefs. It would leave coastlines open to the effects of storm surges and damage lifeline revenue from tourism. Among one of the first to fall will be Australia's Great Barrier Reef. The world's largest organic structure will fall victim of the acidifying oceans.

Researchers from round the world are now voicing their concerns after their studies have revealed the following;

98% of the world's Coral reefs are subject to become too acidic for corals to grow by the middle of the century.

20% of the world's coral reefs have been effectively destroyed and show no immediate prospects of recovery

Increasing levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere may be imperilling the coral's ability to construct reefs.

Many reefs have already been affected by bleaching, a process in which the coral loses its colour and turns a pallid white, caused by elevated sea surface temperatures.

The oceans cover approximately 75% of the earth's surface and can absorb approximately a third of the 20 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide produced each year by humans. While the oceans do help to slow the effects of global warming by keeping the gas away from the atmosphere by dissolving it into carbonic acid, this in turn dissolves carbonates. One of the Carbonates affected on the coral reefs is aragonite, this is what the reef uses to grow their skeletons, without this corals become brittle and are unable to grow and repair damage caused by fish, snails and natural erosion.

Citing the results of previous scientific studies, the authors demonstrated that a doubling of the levels of aragonite found in the pre-industrial times to today. Atmospheric carbon dioxide levels stood at 280 parts per million for the pre-industrial age, present day levels of carbon dioxide are 380ppm. Scientists expect this figure will rise significantly by the end of the century.

It has been suggested that the last 50 years has seen an increase in the water temperatures of tropical and subtropical areas, this has pushed existing reef building corals to their thermal capacities.

Coral Reefs identified as "Under threat" at the moment are;

Philippines is one of the most threatened coral hot spots around, the reefs face damage from pollution, run-off from logging, and dynamite fishing

Gulf of Guinea has approximately 20 sq km of reef between four islands off the west African coast under threat from coastal development and coral harvesting.

Sunda Islands Part of the coral triangle, one of the most diverse coastal areas. Already at threat from destructive fishing and reef fish trade

Southern Mascarene Islands Reefs surrounding Mauritius, Reunion and Rodriguez islands in southern Indian Ocean are under threat from pollution from the sugar cane industry and agricultural development

Eastern South Africa Next to Cape Floristic, this smaller reef is also at risk from over-fishing and tourism

It is a sobering thought that serious, if not devastating, consequences for the future of coral reefs are foreseen even though the authors have used the lower limits for projections of global warming and ocean acidification in their analyses.
About the Author
Climate Change Coral Reefs Environmental issue are a growing concirn along with many other effects humans have on the enviroment, come and have a read on our other topics on Global Warming.
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