This article references a study that finds fragile marine ecosystems cannot grow fast enough to keep pace with sea levels.
Scientists have uncovered a new threat to the world’s endangered coral reefs. They have found that most are incapable of growing quickly enough to compensate for rising sea levels triggered by global warming.
The study suggests that reefs – which are already suffering serious degradation because the world’s seas are warming and becoming more acidic – could also become overwhelmed by rising oceans.
The research – led by scientists at Exeter University and published in Naturethis week – involved studying growth rates for more than 200 tropical western Atlantic and Indian Ocean reefs. It was found only 9% of these reefs had the ability to keep up with even the most optimistic rates of sea-level rises forecast by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. “For many reefs across the Caribbean and Indian Ocean regions, where the study focused, rates of growth are slowing due to coral reef degradation,” said Professor Chris Perry, of Exeter University. “Meanwhile, rates of sea-level rise are increasing – and our results suggest reefs will be unable to keep up. As a result, water depths above most reefs will increase rapidly through this century.”