Rising sea level a growing threat to coral

Many coral reefs will be unable to grow fast enough to keep up with rising sea levels, exposing tropical coastlines to increased risk of erosion and flooding, according to new research by an international team of scientists.

The research team, led by scientists from the University of Exeter and including University of Maine oceanographer Robert Steneck, compared the maximum growth rates of coral reefs with predicted rates of sea level rise, and found many reefs will be unable to keep pace.

Their findings and a cover story about the research were published in the journal Nature.

“Given all the people who depend on coral reefs as self-repairing breakwaters, this study should stimulate policymakers to redouble management efforts on local coral reef fish to improve the health of reefs,” says Steneck. “In the long term we must find ways of curbing and reducing the emission of greenhouse gases.”

A news release issued by the University of Exeter on the research is online.