Time is ticking for the underwater ecosystems.
The dramatic loss of coral at the Great Barrier Reef in Australia has highlighted the need to protect the underwater environment from bleaching. But according to a new study, around 99 percent of the world’s coral reefs will be destroyed within the next century if immediate action isn’t taken.
Coral bleaching is mainly down to climate change when the rising temperatures of the waters cause the coral to release the algae living in their tissues causing them to turn white and leaving them vulnerable to disease and death.
Marine biologists warn that most of the world’s coral reefs will turn to bleaching by 2050 meaning devastation for the unique and balanced ecosystem as many other creatures depend on the habitat to thrive.
“Bleaching that takes place every year will invariably cause major changes in the ecological function of coral reef ecosystems,” stated lead author of the study, Ruben van Hooidonk.
The report, sponsored by the UN states that urgent action needs to be taken to drive down greenhouse gases and that the Paris Climate Agreement set to keep global warming below 2 degrees Celsius is not enough of a change in enough time.
The report predicts the worst bleaching will occur in coral reefs closer to the equator and extend to more than 75 percent of the reefs before 2070.
“These predictions are a treasure trove for those who are fighting to protect one of the world’s most magnificent and important ecosystems from the ravages of climate change,” explained Erik Solheim who is head of UN Environment.
If enough is done to reduce emissions, it will greatly help many of the reefs located in Australia, the South Pacific, India and around the Florida Reef Tract, giving these reefs at least another 25 years of survival in which time more can be done to conserve and preserve them.
Details of the study were published in the journal Nature.