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Climate change killed 14% of world's coral reefs in last 10 years: Study

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Increasing temperature, acidity and salinity of the ocean water slowly ‘bleach’ corals until the point that the coral polyps shed the symbiotic algae living within, essentially dying. The situation can still be reversed with proper climate action.

Climate change killed 14% of world's coral reefs in last 10 years: Study
The world lost 14 percent of its coral reefs between 2009 and 2019, a recent study has found. Coral reefs have died in droves before, especially during a global bleaching event in 1998, but bounced back thanks to intervention from scientists and governments. But there seems to be no stopping the current decline.
Coral reefs are rich underwater ecosystems that provide protection to shores from storms and erosion while also providing food to local communities. The biome provides a large habitat for many marine animals of different kinds. But global warming is rapidly imperilling the existence of coral reefs across the world.
The Sixth Status of Corals of the World: 2020 Report from the Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network (GCRMN) has estimated that 22 percent of the globe’s coral reefs have died since 1998.
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The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) Executive Director Inger Andersen said: "Since 2009 we have lost more coral, worldwide, than all the living coral in Australia. We are running out of time: We can reverse losses, but we have to act now. At the upcoming climate conference in Glasgow and biodiversity conference in Kunming, decision-makers have an opportunity to show leadership and save our reefs, but only if they are willing to take bold steps. We must not leave future generations to inherit a world without coral."
More carbons means more dead corals
The reason behind the death of coral across oceans is directly linked to climate change. An increased presence of carbon in the atmosphere reacts with the water of the oceans to form carbonic acid, which increases the acidity of the ocean in a process known as acidification. Apart from acidification, climate change is also causing the saline levels of oceans to increase while also spiking the temperatures of the sea, leading to higher sea surface temperatures.
While coral reefs provide a habitat to a quarter of all marine life, they are incredibly sensitive to climatic changes. The increasing temperature, acidity and salinity of the ocean water slowly ‘bleach’ corals until the point that the coral polyps shed the symbiotic algae living within, essentially turning dead.
"Coral reefs, so fragile and of such importance, are currently under serious threat. Ocean acidification, global warming, pollution: The causes of these threats are many and particularly difficult to address, insofar as they are extremely diffuse, and result from our entire development paradigm. We know that solutions exist that will help us to protect the corals more effectively, to mitigate the threats hanging over them and, by developing scientific research, to gain a better understanding of how we can save them," said Albert II, Prince of Monaco.
They can still be saved
One way to protect coral reefs is by mapping out important areas of coral reefs in the world, something that was recently achieved by researchers in a global effort to create the Allen Coral Atlas, named after late Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen.
The GCRMN report estimates that high coral reef cover and diversity not only protects them from further changes in sea surface temperatures but also found that many coral reefs can recover if conditions permit.
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