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Two degrees is too much for most coral reefs


A modelling study by an international collaboration of scientists has concluded that increasing global temperatures to 2 degrees above pre-industrial global temperatures will be too hot for two-thirds of the world's corals.

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The study published in international journal Nature Climate Change reveals that only strong action to mitigate greenhouse-gas emissions plus an assumed ability to rapidly evolve will save some coral reefs.

Not taking strong steps to mitigate carbon dioxide, however, is certain to destine most coral reefs to loss by mid to late century.

Coral reefs are the most biologically diverse ecosystems on the planet and provide critical services such as coastal protection, tourism and food to hundreds of millions of people worldwide.

Global warming and ocean acidification, both driven by human-caused CO2 emissions, pose a major threat to these important marine ecosystems.

“Our findings show that under current assumptions regarding thermal sensitivity, coral reefs will no longer be prominent coastal ecosystems if global mean temperatures reach 2°C above the pre-industrial temperatures,” lead author Dr Katja Frieler from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, said.

“This research uses some of the most up-to-date models and sophisticated tools available,” said Professor Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, from the Global Change Institute and ARC Centre for Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at The University of Queensland.

“The project results are of great concern. For a long while, we thought that coral reefs would be safe up to 2°C higher in...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.