Lowering ocean temperatures helps save coral reefs

According to a study published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, researchers at the University of Bristol state that limiting the amount of global warming could buy some more time for tropical coral reefs.

With the help of computer models, the researchers investigated how shallow water tropical coral reef habitats may respond to a change in climate in the future.

The study, led by Dr. Elena Couce and colleagues, noticed that limiting greenhouse warming to three watts per square meter is required so as to avoid a large-scale reduction of coral reef habitats in the future.

The shallow tropical coral reefs are known to be among the most productive and diverse ecosystems on the planet. However, their numbers are dropping due to the increasing frequency of bleaching events, associated with increasing temperature and fossil fuel emissions.

“If sea surface temperatures continue to rise, our models predict a large habitat collapse in the tropical western Pacific which would affect some of the most biodiverse coral reefs in the world. To protect shallow-water tropical coral reefs, the warming experienced by the world’s oceans needs to be limited,” Dr. Couce said in a press statement.

For the current study, the researchers tried whether artificial means of reducing global temperature i.e., solar radiation ‘geoengineering’ could be of any help. They noticed that if geoengineering could be successfully set up, then the decline of habitats for tropical coral reefs could be reduced. They also noticed that over engineering the climate can cause harm, as tropical corals do not favor overly-cool conditions. Solar radiation geoengineering does not check the carbon dioxide issue known as ‘ocean acidification’.

The only way to curb the decline of reefs caused by ocean acidification is by lowering the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

Benita Matilda, Science World Report, 16 May 2013. Article.

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