Researchers at the Australian Institute of Marine Science say that high ocean temperatures off the West Australian coast pose a threat to coral reefs there, according to The Guardian. The warning is based on reef core samples.
By analyzing rings in the core samples, scientists were able to look back 215 years at changes occurring in ocean temperature and sea levels in the area. The rings show that the period after 1980 is likely the warmest since 1795 and also has the highest sea levels.
Much of the warming off the coast is believed to be caused by a current that flows down the shoreline. The unusually warm waters it carries spell disaster for the coral reefs, researchers say, as they are associated with coral bleaching and death.
Full results of the study are published in the journal Nature Communications.
Image: Coral reef (Credit: Terry Hughes, Wikimedia Commons)