Sunday, February 11, 2018

Coral Scientists Eye ‘Radical Intervention’ to Save the World’s Reefs

“The dire situation is here now,” said the coordinator of NOAA’s Coral Reef Watch.

A panorama of coral bleaching in the Maldives in May 2016 (Credit: Catlin Seaview Survey) Click to Enlarge.
Some of the nation’s leading coral scientists stressed Thursday that the situation facing coral reefs is nothing short of desperate — and a drastic cut in global carbon dioxide emissions won’t be enough to protect corals from deadly bleaching events and other environmental threats.

In hopes of giving the reefs a fighting chance, a newly formed committee of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine will review a variety of potential intervention strategies, from genetic modification of coral species to spraying salt water into the atmosphere to shade and cool reefs.

At the committee’s first meeting on Thursday, Mark Eakin, coordinator of the National Atmospheric and Oceanic Administration’s (NOAA) Coral Reef Watch, said the “severity” of what has occurred between June 2014 and May 2017 — the “longest, most widespread, and possibly the most damaging” bleaching event on record — has changed the scientific community’s perspective about what should be done.

“The dire situation is here now,” he told the 12-person committee at its first meeting on Thursday.  “We know that climate change is accelerating and accelerating bleaching.  And so we need to make sure that this study isn’t something that talks about some nice areas of science but is too little and too late for the corals.”
The project, titled “Interventions to Increase the Resilience of Coral Reefs,” is expected to take up to two years and will assess both the risks and benefits of intervention strategies. It is sponsored by NOAA.

Tom Moore, manager of NOAA’s Coral Reef Restoration Program, said the agency’s position is that saving the world’s reefs will require a multi-pronged approach that includes “immediate and aggressive action” to combat climate change, ongoing restoration and more drastic measures.

Read more at Coral Scientists Eye ‘Radical Intervention’ to Save the World’s Reefs

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