Coral reef species may adjust to climate change

Many of the world’s coral reefs, including the Great Barrier Reef, could survive the coming decades if greenhouse gas emissions are reduced, a study has found.

While past research had predicted large-scale destruction from global warming was inevitable, recent studies have shown some species were more capable of adapting than others.

But the capacity for these corals to adjust could be greatly reduced by human activities such as over-fishing, pollution and habitat destruction.
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As part of the study, published in the journal Science, scientists reviewed the most recent research on the effect of climate change on coral reefs, as well as evidence from the fossil record.

A marine biologist and study leader, John Pandolfi, said the response to climate change varied dramatically between regions.

”We can’t say everywhere is doomed in two decades because CO2 is this level and pH is that level; it’s just not that black and white,” said Professor Pandolfi, from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University.

”Our expectation is that some regions are less likely to completely collapse in the next few decades than others.”

Nicky Philips, Brisbane Times, 22 July 2011. Full article.

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