Global climate change commitments not enough to save the world’s coral reefs, study finds

The world’s coral reefs are on track to suffer catastrophic damage from climate change, despite global efforts and commitments to reduce activities that contribute to global warming.

New search led by the University of Leeds has revealed that more than 90% of tropical coral reefs will experience frequent heat stress – considered their No. 1 threat – even within the current warming limits of the Paris climate agreement.

In 2015, the Paris climate agreement was created to urge countries to reach the global peak in greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible so that the planet can be a climate-neutral world by the middle of the century. It was adopted by 196 countries and required climate action plans from each participating nation. The treaty aimed to limit global warming to less than 2 degrees Celsius.

In the fall of 2021, world leaders gathered in Glasgow, Scotland for the United Nations Climate Change Conference COP26 renew and expand their commitments to the Paris climate agreement, working around a new goal of preventing the Earth’s temperature from rising above 1.5 degrees Celsius.


America is changing faster than ever! Add Change America to your Facebook Where Twitter stream to stay up to date with the news.


These efforts may not be enough to save the world’s coral reefs, as Leeds researchers believe the future of coral even under 1.5 degrees Celsius of heating is worse than initially thought.

“Our finding reinforces the stark reality that there is no safe limit to global warming for coral reefs. Following COP26 in Glasgow where progress was made towards the 1.5° target C, our results show that 1.5°C still represents substantial warming for ecosystems on the front lines of climate change,” said Adele Dixon, lead author of the study and researcher at the University of Leeds, in a report.

Researchers have found that over the past few decades, 84% of the world’s tropical coral reefs have had enough time to recover between heat waves, but even at 1.5°C they estimate that only 0.2% reefs will have obtained sufficient recovery time. Around 90% of the reefs will experience “intolerable heat stress”.

Thermal refugia are areas of coral reefs that maintain temperatures suitable for coral survival, even when the temperature of the surrounding oceans increases. The researchers found that under a global warming of 1.5 degrees Celsius, most refuges would be wiped out in all regions of the world except for small areas in Polynesia and the Coral Triangle. This is because these areas have lower rates of warming and where cooler, deeper water is brought to the surface, which helps reduce the frequency of severe heat stress episodes.

However, if the world exceeds a global warming of 1.5 degrees Celsius, the researchers estimated that no thermal refuge would exist.

There is still time to save coral reefs, as researchers have recommended implementing local actions that eliminate other stressors, such as fishing, tourism and low water quality, to promote resilience and recovery of thermal refuges.

Researchers have also recommended migrating corals to more sustainable environments, but many of the efforts may only be effective in the short term.

“Coral reefs are important to the sea creatures that live there and to the more than half a billion people whose livelihoods and food security depend on coral reefs. We must not only meet the Paris targets – we must exceed them, while mitigating additional local stressors, if we want children born today to experience reef habitats,” said Maria Beger, Director Research Fellow and Associate Professor of Conservation Science at the University of Leeds.


READ MORE STORIES FROM AMERICA IN CHANGE

GOVERNMENT OF TEXAS. ABBOTT INTRODUCES NEW “BILL OF PARENTAL RIGHTS”

SCIENTISTS ARE MONITORING A NEW SUB-VARIANT OF OMICRON CALLED BA.2

FLORIDA HOUSE COMMITTEE PASSES ‘DON’T SAY GAY’ BILL

A MAN REFUSED A HEART TRANSPLANT BECAUSE HE IS NOT VACCINATED AGAINST COVID-19

RESEARCHERS FIND GENETIC LINK TO COVID-19 INDUCED LOSS OF SMELL AND TASTE

Teresa H. Sadler