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El Niño Spells Disaster for the World’s Coral Reefs – The Guardian

El Niño Spells Disaster for the World’s Coral Reefs – The Guardian

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Bleached hard corals in Papua New Guinea. Coastal ecosystems in the Coral Triangle are extremely sensitive to climate change, which will impact corals and marine resources through rising sea levels, warmer and more acidic oceans, and severe weather. (Photo by Juergen Freund/ADB)

Bleached hard corals in Papua New Guinea. Coastal ecosystems in the Coral Triangle are extremely sensitive to climate change, which will impact corals and marine resources through rising sea levels, warmer and more acidic oceans, and severe weather. (Photo by Juergen Freund/ADB)

Warm seas could devastate the Coral Triangle and “disastrous” would be the impact on the world’s coral reefs due to the El Nino weather event predicted this year by a growing number of scientists.

In a report by Johnny Langenheim early this month in the Environment Blog of The Guardian (UK), this extreme weather phenomena could “wreak havoc across South America and Asia as droughts, floods” and other weather events affect industrial and agricultural regions.

The last big El Niño in 1997/98 caused the worst coral bleaching in recorded history. In total, 16% of the world’s coral was lost and some countries like the Maldives lost up to 90% of their reef coverage.

“In 1998, the Coral Triangle started to bleach in May and continued till September,” says Professor Ove Hoeg Guldberg, a marine biologist and head of the Global Change Institute at the University of Queensland.

He added that the Coral Triangle “sees prolonged periods of temperature anomaly during an El Niño because the equator passes through the middle of it, so it experiences both northern and southern hemisphere summers.”

The report explained that the Coral Triangle is particularly vulnerable because “it is more prone to non-climate related pressures than other reefs.”

According to the World Resources Institute, more than 85% of reefs within the bioregion are threatened by local stressors (overfishing, destructive fishing and pollution), which is substantially higher than the global average of 60%. About 120 million people depend directly on these reefs for their livelihood. As the coral dies, more and more of them will be forced to migrate to live.

“You’re looking at a situation where a once vibrant ecosystem that offered goods and services for humanity is heading towards extinction,” says Professor Guldberg.

Go to the full report.

(Story courtesy of theguardian.com)

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