DAA Daily

The Great Barrier Reef dying due to Climate Change

BY: Sarin Istanboulli and Jivisha Aggarwal, Features Editor and Pawsfeed Editor , Pawprint

Temperatures are rising due to the increase in Carbon Dioxide (CO2), which is led by the burning of fossil fuels. This led to more heat being trapped in the atmosphere, which contributes to climate change. As the Great Barrier Reef is known to be the richest and the most complex natural ecosystem in the world, however, the biggest threat to the future of the Great Barrier Reef is climate change. This impacts the Reef in different ways:

Coral Bleaching:

  • This is when the corals are suffering from heat stress, they began to expel microscopic algae that live within the tissue of the corals which then revealed their white skeletons. This does not cause the corals to die, however, it creates a risk of starvation, as well as, diseases. 

Ocean Acidification:

  • Ocean acidification is when the ocean absorbs carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere and makes it more acidic. Ever since the 18th century, the ocean has been absorbing around 30% of the carbon dioxide that humans have produced, which decreases its pH levels. When an ocean is acidic, it means that the corals have less of a chance to build skeletons and form a coral reef, which then helps protect the coastlines when there are storms. The corals also provide habitats for thousands of species. 

Severe Weather Events:

  • Climate change leads to an increase in the frequency and intensity of weather events like cyclones, hurricanes, etc. Coastal regions like the Great Barrier Reef are in the blast zone of cyclones, flooding, and storms. 

Habitat Changes:

  • As water temperatures continue to rise various marine species are forced to go south to a cooler habitat, which would create an increase of competition between species for food, as well as, shelter, which threatens the entire ecosystem. As for the Reef environment, the loss of marine life would have a devastating impact on the ecosystem. 

As these are ways that climate change is impacting the Reef, one must wonder how we could protect the Reef from climate change. Reducing emissions, and helping coral reefs adapt would help protect the Great Barrier Reef from Climate Change.  

Reduce Emissions:

  • As individuals aren’t taking a serious action on climate change, this is taking a serious roll towards the health of the Great Barrier Reef. The way this can be helped is by reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Another way would also include, strengthening the seagrass meadows, mangroves, and wetlands, because they allow the absorption of CO2 from the atmosphere, which help fight climate change. 

Help Coral Reefs Adapt:

  • Reducing emissions is no longer enough for the survival of the Great Barrier Reef. As the world manages to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, people must also help the coral reefs to adapt to warmer temperatures due to the climate change.The way this is being done is by developing, as well as, scaling interventions that would buy time for the coral reefs. The concentration is to protect the corals from severe bleaching, and to do that, we have to make the corals adapt to warmer temperatures, as well as, constantly rebuild resilient reefs where necessary. 

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