Coral Reefs in danger of disappearing
Urgent cuts in carbon emissions are needed if Caribbean coral reefs are to survive past the end of the century, scientists have warned.
A new paper, published in the journal Current Biology, says Caribbean reef growth is already much slower than it was 30 years ago. Its authors say that without serious action on climate change, the reefs may stop growing and begin to break down within the next 20-30 years.
'The balance between reef growth and reef erosion is changing as we alter the environment,' says Dr Emma Kennedy of the University of Exeter, who led the study.
'This means that increasingly, some reefs are breaking down faster than they can replace themselves — essentially they're being worn away.'
As corals grow they produce limestone skeletons which build up over time into vast reefs. They provide a natural breakwater and a complex three-dimensional habitat, making an ideal home for a vast array of marine species.
'Healthy reefs are the rainforests of the sea,' says Kennedy. 'They provide habitat for over a quarter of all marine species, including many colourful fish and corals.'
Coral reef photo via Shutterstock.
Read more at Planet Earth Online.