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Coral reefs at risk of biggest die-off in history

A tourist snorkels above coral in the lagoon located on Lady Elliot Island. REUTERS/David Gray

Coral reefs across the world are undergoing the third ever "bleaching" with scientists warning it could be the biggest loss of coral in history

Coral reefs at risk of biggest die-off in history

According to The Guardian since 2014 a massive underwater heatwave, driven by climate change, has caused corals to lose their colour and die. By the end of this year 38 per cent of the world’s reefs will have been affected. About 5 per cent will have died forever.

And things look to get worse in 2016.

A strong El Nino weather system is set to drive record global temperatures and further increase water temperatures.

The Guardian says that for coral scientists such as Dr Mark Eakin, the coordinator of the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Coral Reef Watch programme, this phenomenon has been feared since the first global bleaching occurred in 1998 .

“The fact that 2016’s bleaching will be added on top of the bleaching that has occurred since June 2014 makes me really worried about what the cumulative impact may be. It very well may be the worst period of coral bleaching we’ve seen,” he told the Guardian.

Scientists say there is a tenuous future for the precious corals unless sharp cuts are made to carbon emissions.

Since the early 1980s the world has lost roughly half of its coral reefs with some scientists predicting continuing rise of sea temperatures could result in the complete loss of coral reefs by the middle of this century.

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