Washington, Dec 11 (ANI): An international report has determined that increasing pressures from climate change will reach a tipping point in less than a decade, triggering a significant decline in the health of the planet's coral reef ecosystems.
The report, titled "Status of Coral Reefs of the World: 2008", was released by the Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network and the International Coral Reef Initiative.
This status report was put together from 370 contributors in 96 countries and states and is the most authoritative report on the world's coral reefs.
The report presents regional assessments of the health coral reef ecosystems found throughout the world, the threats they face, and recommendations for action.
It provides both good and bad news, while sounding the call for urgent global action to respond to climate change.
Coral reefs continue to be threatened from direct human activities of pollution and over-fishing, but now the threat of climate change is being recognized as the major threat to the future of reefs around the world.
One fifth of the Earth's coral reefs have disappeared since 1950, and a NOAA authored report issued in July states that more that that nearly half of U.S. coral reef ecosystems are considered to be in "poor" or "fair" condition.
"Unless the world gets serious about reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the next few years, it is likely there will be massive bleaching and deaths of corals around the world," according to the report's lead editor and global coral authority Clive Wilkinson, who coordinates the Global Coral Monitoring Network in Australia.
"This will have significant impacts on the lives of the people in developing countries who are dependent on reefs for food, for tourism, and for protecting the land they live on," he added.
The status report includes satellite date from NOAA's Coral Reef Watch project which measures stress to reefs from temperature globally and resulting bleaching.
Frequent or long-term bleaching kills or severely weakens corals, leaving them more vulnerable to disease, and resulting in a sea bottom covered with algae and sponges that may eventually smother remaining coral.
Acidification is a growing threat that could imperil the ability of corals to build their skeletons.
A number of recent studies demonstrate that ocean acidification is likely to harm coral reefs by slowing coral growth and making reefs more vulnerable to erosion and storms.
In good news, the report, which is issued every four years, found that there was major recovery of reefs in the Indian Ocean and western Pacific from climate change induced bleaching events in 1998, especially those reefs that were in protected areas. (ANI)