What Does Global Warming Do To Coral Reefs

The scientific evidence of global warming is expanding exponentially and its effects on the environment are becoming clear. One of its most hostile impacts is on coral reefs, which are considered one of the most diverse ecosystems in the planet. As the climate changes, coral reefs are decaying due to increased ocean temperature, ocean acidification, and changing salinity levels, threatening the entire growing and breeding process of coral colonies and the life of countless aquatic species that depend on healthy coral reefs.
For centuries, coral reefs have been benefiting human society immensely. In many tourist areas, they have become a major source of income, since they have attracted a great number of holiday-makers. Aside from in tourism, coral reefs also play a central role in protecting shorelines from storms and offering defense for millions of fish that depend on them for shelter and food, playing a key role in many nations’ fisheries. In addition, coral reefs produce goods and services valued at around 375 billion dollars a year that humans benefit from.
This makes the effects of global warming on coral reefs a matter of great concern. Oceans absorb approximately 93% of the heat trapped on Earth, and as ocean temperatures rise, coral reefs are subject to bleaching events when the warm water forces them to expel the symbiotic algae living in their tissues, leaving them without food. Furthermore, ocean acidification caused by increased absorption of carbon dioxide is reducing the amount of calcium and aragonite, essential minerals for a coral’s growth, which is seriously impairing their construction. Aside from this, rapidly increasing ocean salinity levels as a result of melting polar ice triggers the death of coral communities as it hinders their natural process of reproduction.
Without coral reefs, millions of aquatic species would be in danger of extinction, and many of the services coral reefs provide for humans, such as food and protection added to those sought by tourists, would be lost, leading to serious economic, social, and environmental problems. To avoid the worst of this, specific policies on a global level must be taken, such as reducing fossil fuel consumption and managing marine resource extraction, among others. Individuals can also help by informing themselves and becoming seaborne environmental stewards.
In conclusion, global warming is a very real threat that is negatively impacting coral reefs, one of the most essential and valuable aquatic ecosystems in the world. If we are to prevent more severe damages that endanger coral reefs and the millions of species depending on them, the implementation of urgent and effective policies to reduce global warming is essential.
It is our responsibility to protect coral reefs and the countless species that inhabit them, and we must act promptly to do so.
Sources:
https://www.thoughtco.com/how-does-global-warming-affect-coral-reefs-1204106
https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/Earth-and-Environmental-Science/coral-reef
https://oceanservice.noaa.gov/facts/coralreef-value.html
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5241534/

Ernestine Warren is a passionate environmentalist, author, and advocate for the protection of the Earth's precious resources. She has written extensively on the causes and effects of global warming, providing accurate information to help educate people on how to combat this major global problem. With a background in science and biology, Ernestine has the tools to help develop solutions that meet everyone's needs while minimizing environmental damage. Her hope is that each person can do their part for the planet and make a real difference to help reduce climate change.

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