Climate change affecting world's rich heritage

In a new study undertaken by an Australian team, the chances of the Australian Great Barrier Reef recovering from the massive bleaching events, latest one happening in 2016 is very slim. To recuperate from it to some extent, an urgent action to nullify the effects of global warming and rejuvenated conservation tactics would be required. In the absence of such measures, the possibility of the great barrier reef getting its former glory back, or at least a part of it is almost impossible.

Coral bleaching has been one of the prime causes for the vanishing barrier reefs of Australia; and not just in Australia but also parts of the world where such ecosystems are found.  The barrier reefs are formed by the continued accumulation of tiny, marine organisms called corals layer over layer for a long time and creating a foundation that mainly consists of calcium carbonate. Over the same, different kinds of algae and other microscopic organisms start to growth and populate thus creating an example of symbiosis.

This creates a very diverse and ecologically conducive habitat for a log of marine life forms. Due to various reasons such as elevated temperatures of the surrounding water, pollutions and changes in the chemical nature of the water can lead to the mass rejection of the algal colonies from the coral reefs. This leaves the coral reefs are thus left bare without any source of nutrition and appear white- the natural colour of calcium carbonate.  Hence the name coral bleaching to describe such episodes.

Such events have taken place thrice in that last two decades- in 1998, 2002 and most recently 2016. As a part of the study undertaken by the team, the last bleaching episode has caused about four times more reefs experience the bleaching as compared to the previous two events.  Even this year the reefs are expected to experience the bleaching phenomenon even though it won’t be as severe as last year.

Over the years, the Great Barrier Reef surrounding the northern coast of the island continent of Australia has been seeing several bleaching events. Rather the barrier reefs of Australia and all the major reefs in other parts of the world have been seeing the bleaching phenomenon that as per the studies it could mean that these spectacular marine ecosystems might not see the dawn by the time the next century starts or so.

Great Barrier Reef of Australia was believed to be the world’s largest living structure and is the only existing formation that is visible from space. Measuring 1,400 miles long, it contained 2,900 individual reefs and 1,050 islands. While counting the total area of reef, it was found to be bigger than the regions of United Kingdom, and it enclosed more biodiversity than all of Europe jointly have. It anchorage 1,625 fish species, 3,000 mollusk species, 30 whales species and Dolphin, 450 species of coral, and 220 species of birds.

Previous study published in the journal Science has warned that there is a need for strong local management to preserve world’s rich heritage. Apart from climatic changes, man-made activities including over-fishing, pollution, use if excess fertilizers, converting forests into concrete forests, etc. have affected places of global environmental importance like Amazon’s rainforest and the Great Barrier Reef. Researcher believe that stopping global warming is the only way to protect Great Barrier Reef.

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