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Coral reefs likely to disappear from planet by mid-century

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Prague: Coral reefs are likely to disappear from the planet by mid-century even if world leaders agree on efforts to limit temperature increase to less than two degree Celsius by the end of the century at December’s Climate Change Conference (COP21) in Paris, scientists have warned.
coral reef“Even if Paris is wildly successful, and a treaty is struck, ocean warming and ocean acidification are going to continue beyond the end of this century,” said professor Peter Sale from University of Windsor in Ontario, Canada.

Speaking at a plenary session of the ongoing Goldschmidt 2015 conference, one of the world’s major gathering of geochemists, in Prague, Czech Republic, Sale said he sees little hope for reefs unless the world embarks on a more aggressive emissions reduction plan.

“This is now serious; I find it very unlikely that coral reefs as I knew them in the mid-1960s will still be found anywhere on this planet by mid-century. Instead, we will have algal-dominated, rubble-strewn, slowly eroding limestone benches,” Sale pointed out.

Coral reefs are hot spots for bio-diversity and crucial for the economies of many coastal communities.

Besides providing habitats and shelter for many marine organisms, they protect coastlines from the damaging effects of wave action and tropical storms.

They are now considered one of the most vulnerable ecosystems to future climate change due to rising sea surface temperatures and ocean acidification, which is caused by higher atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide (CO2).

“Aiming for CO2 at 350 ppm (parts per million), or a total warming of around 1C is scientifically defendable, and would give reefs a good chance; a number of coral reef scientists have called for this,” Sale noted.

“This is a global emergency, which requires us to decarbonise within the next 20 years, or face temperatures that will eliminate ecosystems like coral reefs, and indeed many systems that humans depend on,” said professor Ove Hoegh-Guldberg from University of Queensland in Australia.

(IANS)

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Ozone-Depleting Substance Causes Half of Arctic Warming

Ozone-depleting substances behind half of Arctic warming

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Arctic warming
Ozone-depleting substances caused half of Arctic warming and sea ice loss. Pixabay

Ozone-depleting substances caused half of Arctic warming and sea ice loss from 1955 to 2005, causing about a third of all global warming during that period, reveals a significant study.

A scientific paper published in 1985 was the first to report a burgeoning hole in Earth’s stratospheric ozone over Antarctica.

The discovery left scientists into a huddle to determine the cause which happened to be ozone-depleting substances – long-lived artificial halogen compounds entirely manmade and popularly used as refrigerants, solvents and propellants.

The new study from researchers at Columbia University and published in the journal Nature Climate Change examined the greenhouse warming effects of ozone-depleting substances (ODS).

Arctic warming
Ozone-depleting substances act as a strong supplement to carbon dioxide and had lead to Arctic warming. Pixabay

It found that the ozone-depleting substances acted as a strong supplement to carbon dioxide, the most pervasive greenhouse gas. “We showed that ODS have affected the Arctic climate in a substantial way,” said researcher Michael Previdi from Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.

The scientists reached their conclusion using two very different climate models that are widely employed by the scientific community, both developed at the US National Center for Atmospheric Research. The results highlight the importance of the Montreal Protocol, which has been signed by nearly 200 countries.

“Climate mitigation is in action as we speak because these substances are decreasing in the atmosphere, thanks to the Montreal Protocol,” said Lorenzo Polvani, lead author of the study. “In the coming decades, they will contribute less and less to global warming. It’s a good-news story”.

In the 1980s, a hole in Earth’s stratospheric ozone layer, which filters much of the harmful ultraviolet radiation from the sun, was discovered over Antarctica. Scientists quickly attributed it to ODS. The world sprang into action, finalizing a global agreement to phase out ODS.

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The Montreal Protocol was signed in 1987 and entered into force in 1989. Due to the swift international reaction, atmospheric concentrations of most ODS peaked in the late 20th century and have been declining since.

However, for at least 50 years, the climate impacts of ODS were extensive, revealed the new study. (IANS)