The Effects of Global Warming on the Great Barrier Reef Essay

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The Effects of Global Warming on the Great Barrier Reef


Coral reefs around the world are in danger. One of the causes is global warming, which has been increasing the temperature of the ocean water resulting in coral bleaching. This essay will focus on damage occurring to the Great Barrier Reef.

What is a Coral Reef?

A coral reef is a ridge formed in shallow ocean water by accumulated calcium-containing exoskeletons of coral animals, certain red algae, and mollusks. Coral reefs are tropical, forming only where surface waters are never cooler than 20° C (68° F).

The only difference between a barrier reef and a coral reef is that a barrier reef occurs farther offshore, with a channel or lagoon between it and
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Global Warming

Global warming is the increase in the earth's temperature caused by the buildup of greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide, nitrogen, and methane) in the atmosphere. Greenhouse gases prevent infrared radiation from escaping into space, and this greenhouse effect maintains the earth's warm temperature. Increasing levels of greenhouse gases, resulting from industry and the burning of fossil fuels, may result in rising global temperatures, causing coastal flooding and major climatic changes. According to the British Meteorological Office, 1995 was the warmest year on record and global temperatures continued to rise. A United Nations panel of scientists has predicted that if greenhouse gas emissions are not reduced, the average global temperature could rise by 1° to 3.5° C (1.8° to 6.3° F) by the year 2100.

What's Happening?

Coral reefs are threatened by global warming. They can only live in waters between 18 C and 30 C. Therefore, with the increase in temperature of the surrounding water, there has been an unprecedented increase in the number of coral bleaching events during the past 2 decades (which have had some of the warmest years in history). When ocean temperatures get too high, coral polyps lose the symbiotic algae inside them, causing them to turn white, or "bleach," and eventually die.

In particular, Australia has been slow to cut back on greenhouse gas emissions. This
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