The Effects of Global Warming on Coral Reefs - Research Paper Example

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Coral reefs are not exempted from the severe effects of global warming. By digging into various scholarly works in the area, the study finds that being the most fragile ecosystems on earth; coral reefs are highly vulnerable to variations in temperature levels…
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The Effects of Global Warming on Coral Reefs
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Download file to see previous pages There are three ways in which global warming affects coral reefs: through a direct increase in water temperature; through a rise in the carbon dioxide levels in water which makes water acidic; and through rising sea levels which results in inadequate sunlight for the existing coral reefs. In addition, the study points towards various indirect ways through which rising temperature leads to coral reef damage. One issue is the increasing incidence of various coral diseases and another problem is the occurrence of natural disasters like El Nino which damage coral reef habitats. Thus, the study ends with the suggestion that the ultimate way to save coral reefs would be to address the effects of global warming.
Introduction
Global warming is a potential environmental problem that has been adversely affecting the global climatic patterns for more than a century. Global warming can be simply referred to the process of increasing the average temperature of Earth’s atmosphere and oceans. By definition “global warming is an increase in temperature worldwide due to gaseous emissions known as greenhouse gases, and depletion of the upper atmospheric (30-50 kilometers) or stratospheric ozone layer” (Liu, 58). Meteorologist identified an increase in Earth’s average surface temperature by nearly 0.8o C in the beginning of the 20th century. Scientists hold that the increased concentrations of greenhouse gases caused by thoughtless human activities including combustion of fossil fuels and deforestation are the major factors leading to global warming. ‘The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) Fourth Assessment Report’ (AR4) (qtd. Deimling et al) forecasts that the average global surface temperature may rise from 1.1o C to 2.9o C during the 21st century under lowest emissions scenario, whereas the expected range lies between 2.4o C to 6.4o C under highest emission scenario. Studies have identified that the rising average temperature of oceans has a devastating effect on coral reefs. Coral reefs are underwater forests formed of calcium carbonate secreted by corals. Coral reefs play a pivotal role in protecting coastal regions. Coral reefs contain a wide variety of fishes and plants among which most of them belong to some of the most fragile ecosystems of the planet. Studies point to the fact that even a one degree Celsius change in average sea temperature would cause dreadful effects on these underwater structures. This paper will discuss the effects of global warming on coral reefs in the context of current beliefs and researches. The paper will also give focus on the potential long term effects of global warming on the human sustainability. Finally it will propose solutions to the issue on the strength of identified causes and effects. Coral Reef Habitat Coral reefs are considered colonies of micro living animals found in less-nutrients contained marine waters. It has been identified that majority of the coral reefs are made up of stony corals and which in turn contain polyps. Most of these underwater structures were formed after the last glacial period and therefore it can be concluded that most coral reefs are not more than 10,000 years old. Coral reefs constitute the most diverse and fragile ecosystems on Earth and they are often referred to as ‘rainforests of the sea’. As stated in the article, Introduction to Coral Reef ecosystems, threats, and solutions, although coral reefs occupy only less than 0.1% of the worlds’ ocean surface, they are rich sources of different marine species such as fish, worms, sponges, crustaceans, and mollusks. As reported by National Wildlife Federation, the stunning and frail coral reefs found ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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