Global Coral Crisis: Scientists Predict Major Impact in Coming Weeks

by | Apr 17, 2024 | Climate Crisis, Environmental News

Home » Environmental News » Global Coral Crisis: Scientists Predict Major Impact in Coming Weeks

Scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and international partners have issued a dire warning. It’s about the world’s coral reefs, signalling a major global bleaching event. The global coral crisis is expected to unfold in the coming weeks.

This crisis, driven by unprecedented ocean temperatures, marks the fourth recorded global bleaching event. It is anticipated to affect a larger number of reefs than ever before.

Unprecedented Threat to Vital Ecosystems

Coral bleaching occurs when corals are under extreme stress, causing them to expel the algae vital for their survival. While corals can recover from bleaching under favourable conditions, prolonged exposure to high water temperatures can lead to their death.

Global Coral Crisis

Coral reefs are crucial ecosystems, nurturing a quarter of marine species during their life cycles. They support fisheries that provide protein for millions and act as natural barriers against storms.

Derek Manzello, coordinator of NOAA’s Coral Reef Watch program, emphasized the gravity of the situation. He called it “scary” due to the critical role coral reefs play.

Also Read: NOAA Reveals Its New Tool For Coral Reef Exploration

A Look At The Alarming Global Trends

Dr. Lisa Haroun, a marine ecologist at the Oceanic Research Institute, shared her insights: “The data we’ve been analyzing over the past few months indicate that sea temperatures are not only rising but are expected to reach thresholds that could be catastrophic for coral health. If the water temperatures remain high, we could see an unprecedented level of bleaching events which could push many species towards extinction.”

The alarming development is indicative of broader climate change trends, with ocean temperatures rising to unprecedented levels. All this is happening despite decades of warnings from scientists and international pledges to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The economic value of coral reefs, estimated at $2.7 trillion annually, underscores the profound impact of this crisis on both biodiversity and human livelihoods.

The Extent of Damage and Predictions Regarding The Global Coral Crisis

While substantial coral mortality has been observed in Florida and the Caribbean, it is premature to gauge the full extent of global devastation. NOAA and international partners use a comprehensive approach involving sea surface temperatures and reef data to monitor bleaching events.

Presently, over 54% of the world’s coral area has experienced heat stress. This has led to bleaching, with this number increasing by approximately 1% weekly.

Manzello cautioned that within a matter of weeks, this event could become the most extensive global bleaching event on record, surpassing previous crises. The current bleaching event spans across 54 countries and territories. These include regions as distant as Florida, Saudi Arabia, and Fiji. Particularly alarming is the situation unfolding at the Great Barrier Reef, where extensive aerial surveys reveal severe bleaching affecting a significant portion of the reefs.

Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, a marine studies professor, expressed deep concern, characterizing the situation as akin to a “disaster movie.” Urgent global action is imperative to mitigate future bleaching events, driven primarily by carbon emissions.

Also Read: Impacts Of Climate Change On Coral Reef Ecosystem

Hope Amidst Crisis

The unfolding global bleaching event presents a critical threat to coral reefs worldwide. It emphasizes the urgent need for concerted international efforts to address climate change and protect these vital marine ecosystems.

Efforts are underway to bolster coral resilience through selective breeding of heat-tolerant species. Some coral populations are migrating towards cooler waters in certain regions like Australia and Japan. However, widespread migration remains limited due to various environmental factors.

Despite the grim projections, Hoegh-Guldberg remains optimistic, stressing the need for decisive action to combat climate change.

The clock is ticking as scientists and conservationists rally for action to safeguard our oceans and future generations. For now, the global coral crisis is just a projection, but it will expectedly turn into a reality soon.

Also Read: Why Are Coral Reefs Dying?

 

Author

  • Sarah Tancredi

    Sarah Tancredi is an experienced journalist and news reporter specializing in environmental and climate crisis issues. With a deep passion for the planet and a commitment to raising awareness about pressing environmental challenges, Sarah has dedicated her career to informing the public and promoting sustainable solutions. She strives to inspire individuals, communities, and policymakers to take action to safeguard our planet for future generations.

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