Washington: Under a worst-case scenario, half of the coral reef ecosystems worldwide will permanently face unsuitable conditions by 2035, if climate change continues unabated, according to a new study by researchers at the University of Hawaii.
Unsuitable conditions will likely lead to the corals dying off and other marine life will struggle to survive due to disruptions in the food chain, according to the study published in scientific journal PLOS Biology.
Using an ensemble of global climate change models, the study compared scenarios of five environmental stressors projected from the 1950s through the year 2100, reports Xinhua news agency.
These stressors included sea surface temperature, ocean acidification, tropical storms, land use and human population, the researchers said in a news release.
By 2055, it is projected that 99 per cent of the world’s coral reefs would be facing unsuitable conditions based on at least one of the five stressors studied, the study said.
“While the negative impacts of climate change on coral reefs are well known, this research shows that they are actually worse than anticipated due to a broad combination of climate change-induced stressors,” said lead author Renee O. Setter in the news release.
It was surprising to find that so many global coral reefs would be overwhelmed by unsuitable environmental conditions so soon due to multiple stressors, she said.
Researchers are preparing to enter the next phase of their work, which will take a closer look at how climate change is projected to affect individual coral species, according to the news release.