Scientists have revealed that the Great Barrier Reef, one of the richest biodiverse areas in the world, will begin to disappear after 2025 due to global warming. Noting that Australia is warming faster than the rest of the world, the researchers warned that the country is heading towards a climate disaster and will see the world’s largest coral reef with it, calling for urgent action.
The Great Barrier Reef consists of 2,900 reefs and 900 islands separate from each other and is considered to be the world’s largest reef system with an area of 344,400 kilometers. However, the richly biodiverse reef system, in addition to being larger than the Great Wall, is home to approximately 1,625 fish species, 3,000 mollusks, and 30 different species of whales and dolphins.
However, the Australian Academy of Sciences found that if the global warming of 1.5 degrees continues, the world’s largest coral reef system would eventually disappear. However, the researchers had previously expected the wonder of nature to shrink, but if that temperature rise occurs, only one percent of the reef will remain.
The scientists said that taking action to reverse global warming is the only option to save the Great Barrier Reef, but achieving the goal seems “almost impossible”. The team also stated that the Earth will cross the 1.5 degree threshold by 2025 with current emission rates.
The report, titled “Risks to Australia in a 3 Degrees Warmer World” suggested that Australia is heading towards a climate disaster and will take the Great Barrier Reef with it. The report stated that Australia, the driest continent inhabited, is highly vulnerable to the effects of global warming.
According to researchers, the entire world has already seen a 1.1 degree warming increase since the Industrial Revolution. This transformative period began in 1760 and lasted until about 1840. The reason was the adoption of the new production process in both Europe and the USA.
As well as moving to more mechanical processes, the world has seen pollution increase and natural resources depleted to power machines.
However, Professor Lesley Hughes of Macquarie University explained that warming did not affect the Earth equally, as Australia was already facing 1.4 degrees of increase. In my opinion, the Great Barrier Reef, in particular, is at greater risk of extinction from climate change, as Australia is warming more and faster than the rest of the planet.
On the other hand, Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, a biologist and climate scientist specializing in coral reefs, noted that if humans could balance global warming, surviving corals could recover and expand again across the entire reef. However, Hoegh-Guldberg also explained that if the opposite happens, the once colorful reef will be replaced by seaweed, bacteria, and other organisms.
On the other hand, in March 2020, it was revealed that the Great Barrier Reef was facing ‘potentially devastating coral bleaching event after unusually warm ocean temperatures. In October 2020, it was discovered that more than half of the corals have disappeared due to bleaching in the last 25 years.
The so-called coral bleaching is caused by the overheating of the ocean waters in the face of global warming of corals. When the water is too hot, the corals expel the algae (zooxanthellae) living in their tissues, causing the reef to bleach completely. Corals can survive after bleaching, but this shows that they are under stress and it takes decades to recover. When the heating of the water cannot be prevented, death occurs.