Sydney, Mar 6 ANI | 5 months ago

The Great Barrier Reef will be irreversibly damaged by climate change in just 16 years, according to leading reef researcher.


The reef has lost about half its coral coverage since the mid-1980s, with increased carbon dioxide concentrations contributing about 10 percent alongside damage from other sources such as invasive species and farm nutrient run-off, Professor Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, a professor of marine science at the University of Queensland, said.

Climate change, though, is fast taking over as the main threat to the world's reefs as warmer waters increase the frequency of coral bleaching, while acidifying oceans weaken or erode coral structures, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.

The reef's plight will be a focus of this year's Earth Hour, expected to be observed in 152 nations around the world.

By 2030, on present projections for the growth of carbon dioxide emissions, conditions will be "getting close to what we understand to be some of the limits in terms of rapidly calcifying reefs", Professor Hoegh-Guldberg said.

By mid-century, the Great Barrier Reef may have shrunk to 10 per cent or less of its previous coverage if the present trajectory continues, he said.

A new report, Lights out for the reef, by University of Queensland scientist Selina Ward also highlights the potential ecological and economic damage to the reef from global warming.

Not only will shrinking coral reefs diminish the annual 6-billion-dollar reef tourism industry and the 63,000 jobs it supports, there will be other impacts, the report said.

(Posted on 07-03-2014)