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Earth is likely just a decade a way from hitting 1.5°C of global warming — and scientists say it will be “catastrophic” for coral reefs

Earth is likely just a decade a way from hitting 1.5°C of global warming — and scientists say it will be “catastrophic” for coral reefs

The United Nations has warned the continued use of fossil fuels is hurtling the planet to 1.5°C of global warming, relative to 1850-1900 levels, a threshold that will result in “unprecedented” extreme weather events. New research shows that climate change will also lead to coral bleaching, which could be catastrophic for reefs and the marine life living around them.

BleachingChanges in ocean temperature, pollution, sunlight overexposure, and low tides can all lead to coral bleaching. Any of these factors can stress coral and cause it to release the algae in its tissues. Corals become more susceptible to disease when they lose their primary food source, algae. 

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, reefs are “among most biologically diverse ecosystems on Earth”. They provide a vital resource for approximately 25% of marine life. About half a billion people rely on reefs for their livelihood, tourism, and food. 

Researchers said that climate change will continue to have a negative impact on the planet and that almost all of these reefs will be able escape a dire situation. 

The latest StudyThe study, published in PLOS Climate Tuesday, focused on thermal refugees, areas of coral reefs capable of maintaining the temperature that coral reefs require to survive in an increasing ocean temperature. Currently, 84% of coral reefs are thermal refugia, meaning they have had enough time for recovery from heat waves that can bleach and kill coral reefs. 

Once the planet hits 1.5°C of warmingResearchers found that only 0.2% of Earth’s thermal refuges will be able to recover from extreme heat events. More than 90% of Earth’s coral reefs will experience “an intolerable degree of thermal stress.” At 2°C, researchers found, no thermal refugia will remain, and all Coral reefsYou will be exposed and vulnerable. 

This study was published the day after another researcher concluded that marine heat was the. “new normal”For oceans. 

The only areas researchers believe might be able to survive the 1.5° threshold are small regions in Polynesia and the Coral Triangle where lower rates of warming are anticipated. But even those regions would no longer be suitable if Earth hits 2°C of warming.

Adele Dixon, lead author of the study, stated that “our finding reinforces the stark truth that there is no safe limit to global warming for coral reefs.” Statement

This may all be happening in a few years. 

The U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), stated in August that the world would likely reach the 1.5°C of warmingThe threshold is expected to be reached in the early 2030s.  As the IPCC explained, global warming of 1.5°C will result in more frequent and more intense extreme heat events. Coral reefs usually take around a decade for them to recover and function again after a severe coral bleaching episode. However, under the expected climate scenarios, they won’t have enough time.

Global warming is a result of human activities such as excessive deforestation and overuse of fossil fuels.

Researchers suggested some measures that could be taken to help the ailing reefs. These included removing tourism and fishing stressors and encouraging coral migration to more suitable areas. But they added that such measures may only be beneficial in the short term, and that the true culprit — global warming — must be addressed, and quickly. 

Scott Heron, a physics Professor at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies (Australia) The study confirms that people need to take urgent “significant action” to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. 

The Paris Climate Agreement has the majority of nations committed to staying below the 1.5°C level, but researchers of this study said that limiting global warming to that change “will not be enough to save most coral reefs.” 

Maria Beger, research supervisor, stated that coral reefs are vital for marine life and for more than half a billion people whose livelihoods depend on them. “We must not only achieve the Paris goals but also exceed them while reducing local stressors if we want children today to have access to reef habitats.

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