The 2020 Ocean Sciences Meeting, was held in San Diego on Monday 17 February. Scientists have warned that warming oceans and acidic water could destroy nearly all the existing coral reef habitats by the year 2100.
Renee Setter, a researcher at the University of Hawaii Manoa said in a press release that ‘by 2100, it’s looking quite grim,’
Between 70 and 90% of the world’s coral reefs are expected to disappear within the next 20 years due to climate change and pollution, scientists say.
There have been attempts to slow the decline by growing coral in labs and transplanting live coral to dying reefs, in the hope of returning them to a healthy state. However, researchers fear that these efforts won’t be enough to turn the tide.
Because of the increasing sea surface temperature and acidity, ‘new research mapping where such restoration efforts would be most successful over the coming decades finds that by 2100, few to zero suitable coral habitats will remain,’ the initial findings suggest.
A few viable sites for coral reef restoration have been identified, off the coast of Baja California and the Red Sea, but even these aren’t perfect because of their proximity to rivers.
Although pollution causes much harm to ocean creatures, the new research indicates that corals are more at risk from ’emission-driven changes in their environment’.
Setter said: ‘Trying to clean up the beaches is great and trying to combat pollution is fantastic. We need to continue those efforts, but at the end of the day, fighting climate change is really what we need to be advocating for in order to protect corals and avoid compounded stressors.’
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