Growth of corals in Great Barrier Reef ‘slowing down’

A new study of corals in the Great Barrier Reef in Australia has revealed that their growth is definitely slowing down — most likely due to warming and ocean acidification.

Scientists have carried out the study and found that the biggest and most robust corals in the Great Barrier Reef have slowed their growth by more than 14 per cent since the “tipping point” year of 1990, the Science journal reported.

“It is cause for extreme concern that such changes are already evident, with the relatively modest climate changes observed to date, in the world’s best protected and managed coral reef ecosystem,” study’s co-author Dr. Janice Lough said.

In fact, the study focuses on the calcification rates of GBR corals and based on the statistical analyses of annual growth bands from 328 Porites corals from 69 reefs across the length and breadth of the GBR, and extending back in time up to 400 years.

Up to the tipping point in 1990, there were modest fluctuations in calcification — that is how much skeleton the corals put down each year — with an annual decline rate recorded that year of 0.3 per cent. However, by 2005 growth was declining by 1.5 per cent per year. On current trends, the corals would stop growing altogether by 2050.

The Hindu, 25 February 2009. Full article.

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