Climate change is killing coral: reef scientist

IN THE past 30 years, half of the Great Barrier Reef's coral cover has been lost.

That is what a reef scientist said when speaking about the effects of climate change and pollution.

Reef scientist Selina Ward said a small rise in temperature above the average summer maximum could bleach a reef and change its colour.

She said bleaching cut down a coral's energy, which often caused coral death.

In 1998, she said 16% of the world's corals were lost in one large bleaching event.

Ms Ward also said the ocean absorbed carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and this changed the chemistry of the water.

This caused calcium carbonate - which a coral skeleton is made of - harder to create, she said.

"These climate change factors - they're happening now. We're not talking about 100 years or 50 years. The bleaching events are happening now."

She said carbon dioxide concentration in the sea had increased 30% since pre-industrial times while the amount of available carbonate has also dropped 16%.

"We need to keep the conditions of the reef as good as we possibly can so that the corals have the best chance they can possibly have against the ravages of climate change."

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