A new study from the University of Miami shows that the world’s coral reefs will suffer severe annual bleaching. This will be the reality if climate trends would continue.  The researchers predict that the reefs in Taiwan and around the Turks and Caicos archipelago would be among the first ones to experience annual coral bleaching. The warning includes the Great Barrier Reef. The results of their study were published in the journal Nature Scientific Reports.

The Not so Grim Predictions on the Coral Reefs

“These predictions are a treasure trove for those who are fighting to protect one of the world’s most magnificent and important ecosystems from the ravages of climate change,” says Erik Solheim, the head of UN Environment. “They allow conservationists and governments to prioritize the protection of reefs that may still have time to acclimatize to our warming seas.

The projections show us where we still have time to act before it’s too late.” This won’t change unless we fail to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The coral reefs located off the coast of Bahrain, in Chile and in French Polynesia, will be affected by the annual bleaching later.

“Bleaching that takes place every year will invariably cause major changes in the ecological function of coral reef ecosystems,” adds the team’s leader Ruben van Hooidonk of NOAA and the University of Miami. “Further, annual bleaching will greatly reduce the capacity of coral reefs to provide goods and services, such as fisheries and coastal protection, to human communities.”

We Need to Act Now to Save the Coral Reefs

Solheim adds that the predictions must be taken seriously if we want to save the coral reefs. He also emphasizes the need to meet the target of the Paris Agreement. “We are going to need to be much more innovative and proactive if we want to see coral reefs thrive into the next century,” asserts study co-author Gabby Ahmadia, a lead marine scientist at World Wildlife Fund (WWF). “Conventional conservation is not going to cut it against the impacts of climate change.  We need to embrace the new climate reality to guide efforts to save our oceans”.