'Cloud brightening' technology can save Great Barrier Reef

WION Web Team
New Delhi Published: Apr 29, 2021, 08:27 PM(IST)

Australia's Great Barrier Reef Photograph:( Reuters )

Story highlights

Climate change is causing damage to the reef

Corals are essential for the health of Oceans and our planet. Widespread pollution and climate change has caused great damage to corals in oceans around the world. This is especially true in case of the Great Barrier Reef. The huge wall of corals is in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Australia.   

The reef faces "precipitous declines" in coral cover over the next five decades due to "intense pressure" from climate change, a study published in the peer-reviewed journal Royal Society Open Science said.

But a new, experimental "cloud brightening" technology and introduction of heat-tolerant corals can help slow down the damage to the reef

Climate change is causing marine heatwaves, more intense cyclones and flooding -- all of which are damaging the health of the reef.

"Coral reefs are some of the most climate-vulnerable ecosystems on Earth," lead author Scott Condie told AFP.

"The model projections suggest that coral cover on the Great Barrier Reef could fall below 10 per cent within 20 years."

Condie and his co-authors modelled the potential impact of interventions such as "cloud brightening", which was first trialled by scientists on the reef last year.

The technology sends salt crystals into the air, making clouds reflect more sunlight to cool waters around the reef.

They also modelled expanded measures to control the predatory crown-of-thorns starfish, which consume the corals and proliferate when bleaching forces bigger fish to leave an area.

"The results suggest that combinations of interventions may delay decline of the Great Barrier Reef by two decades or more," Condie said.

He said there was "clear urgency" to act but acknowledged that the scale of the work required was "much larger than anything that has previously been deployed on coral reefs".

"Any large-scale interventions would require a major financial investment and need to be acceptable to local communities," he added.

The modelling assumes global temperatures will not rise beyond 1.8 degrees Celsius by 2100, which would require governments to follow through on their Paris climate agreement pledges.

(With inouts from agencies)

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