10 December 2008

A fifth of coral reefs dead: only emission cuts can save the rest, says IUCN

"If nothing is done to substantially cut emissions, we could effectively lose coral reefs as we know them, with major coral extinctions,”

The world has lost 19 percent of its coral reefs, and if current trends in carbon dioxide emissions continue, many of the remaining reefs may be lost over the next 20 to 40 years.

Climate change is considered the biggest threat to coral reefs with impacts such as increasing sea surface temperatures and acidification. These are exacerbated by overfishing, pollution and invasive species.

Encouragingly, 45 percent of the world’s reefs are currently healthy. Another sign of hope is the ability of some corals to recover after major bleaching events, caused by warming waters, and to adapt to climate change threats.

However, the report shows that, globally, the downward trend of recent years has not been reversed.

This according to the 2008 global update of the world’s reef status, released by the Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network. Full article on the IUCN website with links to downloads of original reports, and on the wildsingapore news blog.

More bad news released earlier ...

A new global deal on climate change will come too late to save most of the world's coral reefs, according to a US study that suggests major ecological damage to the oceans is now inevitable. from Climate deal may be too late to save coral reefs, scientists warn David Adam, guardian.co.uk 27 Oct 08;

A third of reef-building corals worldwide are threatened with extinction due to climate change and water pollution, according to the first global assessment on the marine creature by 39 scientists. Destructive fishing and the degradation of coastal habitats also posed threats, said the study published Thursday involving the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and Conservation International. from A third of reef-building corals threatened with extinction: scientists Yahoo News 10 Jul 08;

Rising carbon dioxide levels in the world's oceans due to climate change, combined with rising sea temperatures, could accelerate coral bleaching, destroying some reefs before 2050, says a new Australian study. The study says earlier research may have significantly understated the likely damage to the world's reefs caused by man-made change to the Earth's atmosphere. from Rising CO2 accelerates coral bleaching: study Michael Perry, Reuters 28 Oct 08;

Australia's chief climate advisor Friday urged a 10 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 but conceded this may not save the country's natural assets such as the Great Barrier Reef. from Australian climate advisor urges 10 percent emissions cuts Yahoo News 5 Sep 08;

THE world's reefs, including Australia's Great Barrier Reef, will be dead within 30 years unless human activity changes quickly, a leading researcher says. Addressing the 11th international River symposium in Brisbane, Ove Hoegh-Guldberg said it was crunch time for the world's reefs. “Let's say we delay another 10 years on having stern actions on emissions at a global level, we will not have coral reefs in about 30 to 50 years,” he said. from Reefs will be dead within 30 years, Australian expert warns The Australian 1 Sep 08;

Should we give up? Glimmers of hope ...

THE prediction of a prominent marine biologist that climate change could render the Great Barrier Reef extinct within 30 years has been labelled overly pessimistic for failing to account for the adaptive capabilities of coral reefs. from Great Barrier Reef could adapt to climate change, scientists say Paul Maley, The Australian 1 Nov 08

Last week, scientists issued their latest, grim assessment of the world's coral reefs. But as Steve Connor reports from Florida, extraordinary new ocean 'reseeding' techniques mean there may still be time to halt – or even reverse – the destruction of mother nature's marine marvels. "Coral reefs are potentially immortal. They only have to die if we make them." from Ocean quest: The race to save the world's coral reefs The Independent 17 Jul 08;

What about Singapore's reefs?

Success stories have shown that the picture is not totally dismal, and much can be done to save our watery treasure troves. from Is saving Singapore's reefs... A LOST CAUSE? With 88% of region's coral reefs under threat, greater effort must be made to protect them Chou Loke Ming, Straits Times 31 May 08;

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