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17 Sep 2012: Most Coral Reefs At Risk
Even if Warming Limited to 2 Degrees C

Most of the world’s coral reefs will likely be subject to long-term degradation even if global warming is limited to 2 degrees Celsius, and as much as one-third of coral reef systems will likely be vulnerable to threats even under the most optimistic climate projections, a new study says. In an analysis of the

In Fight to Save Coral Reefs,
Finding Strategies that Work

Interview with Coral Reef Expert Nancy Knowlton
In four decades as a marine biologist, Nancy Knowlton has played a key role in documenting the biodiversity of coral reefs and the threats they increasingly face. In an interview with Yale e360, she highlights conservation projects that offer hope of saving these irreplaceable ecosystems.
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potential effects of heat stress on coral reef systems worldwide under different climate change scenarios, a team of researchers found that most potential outcomes will likely trigger more frequent and intense mass-bleaching events. If global mean temperature increases exceed 2 degrees C, coral reefs “might no longer be prominent coastal ecosystems,” said Katja Frieler, a researcher at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and lead author of the study, published in the journal Nature Climate Change. Under the most optimistic scenarios — including aggressive climate mitigation and assumptions that coral systems can adapt to warming conditions — one third of the world’s coral reef systems would still be subject to severe degradation, the study said. “Without a yet-uncertain process of adaptation or acclimation, however, already about 70 percent of corals are projected to suffer from long-term degradation by 2030 even under an ambitious mitigation scenario,” Frieler said. According to researchers, the likely threshold to preserve at least half of the world’s coral reefs would be a global mean temperature increase of less than 1.5 degrees C.


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