World Bulletin / News Desk
The world's largest coral reef - under threat from Australia's surging coal and gas shipments, climate change and a destructive starfish - is declining faster than ever and coral cover could fall to just 5 percent in the next decade, a study shows.
Researchers from the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) in the northeastern city of Townsville say Australia's Great Barrier Reef has lost half of its coral in little more than a generation. And the pace of damage has picked up since 2006.
Globally, reefs are being assailed by myriad threats, particularly rising sea temperatures, increased ocean acidity and more powerful storms, but the threat to the Great Barrier Reef is even more pronounced, the AIMS study published on Tuesday found.
"In terms of geographic scale and the extent of the decline, it is unprecedented anywhere in the world," AIMS chief John Gunn told Reuters.
AIMS scientists studied data from more than 200 individual reefs off the Queensland coast covering the period 1985-2012. They found cyclone damage caused nearly half the losses, crown-of-thorns starfish more than 40 percent and coral bleaching from spikes in sea temperatures 10 percent.
The starfish are native and prey on the reefs. But plagues are occurring much more frequently.
Ordinarily, reefs can recover within 10 to 20 years from storms, bleachings or starfish attacks but climate change impacts slow this down. Rising ocean acidification caused by seas absorbing more carbon dioxide is disrupting the ability of corals to build their calcium carbonate structures. Hotter seas stress corals still further.
Greens say the 2,000 km (1,200 mile) long reef ecosystem, the centre-piece of a multi-billion tourism industry, also faces a growing threat from shipping driven by the planned expansion of coal and liquefied natural gas projects.
Those concerns have put pressure on the authorities to figure out how to protect the fragile reef.
The researchers say the pace of coral loss has increased since 2006 and if the trend continues, coral cover could halve again by 2022, with the southern and central areas most affected.
Between 1985 and 2012, coral cover of the reef area fell from 28 percent to 13.8 percent.
"Coral cover on the reef is consistently declining, and without intervention, it will likely fall to 5 to 10 percent within the next 10 years," say the researchers in the study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal. They called for tougher curbs on greenhouse gas emissions as a crucial way to stem the loss.
Shipping and new ports on the Queensland coast are another major threat, Greenpeace says.
Coal is one of Australia's top export earners and the state of Queensland is the country's largest coal-producer. It also has a rapidly growing coal-seam gas industry for LNG exports.
Earlier this year, Greenpeace estimated port expansion could more than triple Queensland's coal export capacity by 2020 from 257 million tonnes now. That would mean as many as 10,000 coal ships per year could make their way through the Great Barrier Reef area by 2020, up 480 percent from 1,722 ships in 2011, according to the group.
The Queensland and national governments, which jointly manage the reef, have launched a major review of managing the risks facing the UNESCO-listed reef and its surrounding marine area. The review will look at managing the threats from increased shipping to urban development.
Gunn said better management was all about buying time and improving the reef's resilience to climate change. A key area was improving water quality from rivers flowing into the reef area, with studies suggesting fertiliser-rich waters help the crown-of-thorns starfish larvae rapidly multiply.
The organization cited missing letters in some words or mistakes in verses and punctuation in free Quran apps
The intervention in a Chinese company’s bid to buy German chip maker, Aixtron, comes after Chinese companies have spent billions to acquire technology in Europe and the United States.
Malware designed for cellphones are designed to steal email addresses and authentication data stored on the devices to access sensitive data from Gmail, Google Photos, Google Docs and other services, Check Point said.
Japan plans to build the world's fastest-known supercomputer as part of a government policy to get back Japan's mojo in the world of technology
The once-mighty Finnish company sold its device business to Microsoft in 2014, where phones were sold under the Lumia brand. But as Microsoft effectively exits the smartphone business, Nokia is set to return.
South Korea denied a request by Google to export digital-map date
Day after releasing new anti-harassment policies, company promotes ad for white supremacists
On trip to US, senior executives in tech industry tell investors of opportunities offered
Facebook today announced that it has purchased CrowdTangle, a 4-year-old tool that publishers use to track how content spreads around the ...
Moscow City Court has upheld a ruling to block the LinkedIn professional network website.
Neither Tesla nor Grohmann have offered details of how much money is to change hands with the Tesla purchase of Grohmann
The presidential election is being debated extensively in the world media. One of the most important topics of discussion is the effect of Google on the US election. Donald Trump has accused Google of manipulating the remaining weeks and hours are now left behind. Trump accused has Google of hiding negative search results about Clinton and showing Clinton ahead in the polls.
Overseas critics of the law have argued that Beijing's new cybersecurity law threatens to shut foreign technology companies out of various sectors deemed "critical", and includes data to be stored on servers located in China
A French teen has been given a suspended jail sentence for naming his wifi network after the terrorist group
Tesla has defended a merger with SolarCity, saying the company will contribute $1 billion in revenue in 2017, and a half-billion over the next three years.