Far northern section of the Great Barrier Reef (Credit: NASA)
Reef scientists say coal is the Great Barrier Reef’s gravest threat, according to an article republished by LiveScience. The scientists say that the reef has already lost half of its living coral to natural causes. Greenhouse gases threaten what remains. Greenhouse gases increase the ocean’s temperatures which lead to coral bleaching. When corals bleach, they expel the algae living inside them.
Higher carbon dioxide concentrations also fuel ocean acidification, which hinders coral growth and causes harmful shifts in coral reef fish behavior. Additionally, Australia is selling coal to China and India and is seeking to expand current coal ports on the reef. The researchers say it would take 50 years to reverse the damage that has been done.
Image: Far northern section of the Great Barrier Reef (Credit: NASA)