Wednesday, 29 September 2010 20:25

Coral Reefs Could Be Gone by 2100

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Did you know that coral reefs affect over 500 million people? While these majestic ocean structures only cover 0.1% of the sea floor, they provide important goods and ecosystem services, such as supporting fisheries, food supplies and tourism. Recent estimates, though, put the demise of coral reefs at less than a century. Coral reefs and their constituent organisms, corals, are threatened by climate change. If coral reefs collapse, some countries could face economic hardship and hunger. Over 100 nations currently protected by wave-resistant reefs will be more vulnerable to storms and flooding. It all comes down to warming sea temperatures. "The increase in atmospheric CO2 concentrations since the industrial revolution has driven increases in the average tropical ocean temperature by nearly 0.5°C, a sea level rise of 17 cm, and an increase in surface ocean acidity..." This according to a study published by the Institute of Physics (IOP). As a general rule, the thermal threshold for corals occurs at approximately 1°C above the long-term summer maximum for a region. Damage to corals have already been observed in the form of coral bleaching, which is most commonly caused by stress from temperature change. Here's an example of bleached corals: Global temperatures are continuing to rise. In fact, between 2000-2005, it's been estimated that greenhouse gas emissions grew four times faster globally than the preceding 10 years. Click here to learn how you or your business can reduce emissions today.
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