El Nino Effect, Climate Change Kill Up To 40% Of Reefs In Part Of South China Sea, Research Shows

03/24/2017 04:28 pm ET

(Yicai Global) March 24 ― The temperature in the northern part of the South China Sea rose 2 degrees Celsius due to the El Niño effect and climate changes during a six-week period in June and July of 2015, killing up to 40 percent of its coral reefs, Caixin.com reported today, citing research findings published in the Nature Publishing Group’s Scientific Reports journal.

Although it is theoretically unlikely for short-term temperature increases alone to cause widespread damage to the region’s reefs, researchers found that an anomalous high-pressure system created weak winds and smaller waves, causing water temperatures to rise by an additional 4 degrees on top of the 2-degree increase.

Two ecological surveys conducted in early June and late July showed that 33 to 40 percent of corals at the Dongsha Atoll died in six weeks.

Although coral reefs are unlikely to be directly destroyed by people as the South China Sea is sparsely populated, global warming and El Niño are beyond our control, Thomas DeCarlo, the corresponding author of the article and associate professor at the University of Western Australia, told Caixin. It is ultimately due to growing carbon dioxide emissions from the development of science and technology.

Scientists from 96 countries and regions around the world warned in 2008 that if the pace at which carbon dioxide is emitted is not reduced, high temperature and seawater acidification will kill the world’s remaining coral reefs in the next 40 years due to.

China’s efforts to protect the coral reefs mainly focus on artificial restoration with the aim to help them breed and regrow. This is a difficult task, and costs are also a problem. In the longer-term, reefs’ survival depends on natural restoration, which is a very lengthy process.

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