Magazine article Geographical

Warm Sea Water May Kill Reefs in 30 Years

Magazine article Geographical

Warm Sea Water May Kill Reefs in 30 Years

Article excerpt

The world's coral reefs will be devastated by warming tropical oceans which will `bleach' them white and kill many within the next 30 years, unless projected levels of climate change are stopped, says a Greenpeace report. The report Climate Change, Coral Bleaching and the Future of the World's Coral Reefs suggests that if global temperatures increase as projected by Australias CSIRO and Germany's Max Plank Institute, `coral bleaching' would increase in frequency and intensity all over the world until it occurs annually by 2030 to 2070, depending on the reef system. The UN, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that advises world leaders on climate change science uses these two climate projection models.

Coral bleaching occurs when corals become stressed and expel the microscopic organisms, known as zooxanthellae, which colour their tissues and provide them with nutrients. This happens when the maximum water temperature rises only slightly, in most cases one or two degrees. The six major episodes of coral bleaching over the past 20 years have been caused by periods of increased water temperature. The worst occurred in 1998 when it affected virtually all of the world's tropical reef systems. …

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