The oceans are losing coral and marine animals to climate change.
And that’s not even mentioning that, according to a study published in the journal Nature Climate Change, the number of species of animals and plants that live in these habitats is on the decline.
The study’s authors are not saying the ocean is dying.
But they do believe the planet is slowly losing its coral reefs.
Coral reefs are vital ecosystems that protect the planet from rising sea levels, and the loss of them is happening fast, said study co-author Paul G. Wiedenmeier, a research scientist at the University of California, Davis.
The researchers say this loss is “caused by rapid warming, acidification, and salinity stress,” and the scientists aren’t sure why.
“It’s an area of research that’s going to require further study, and it’s going a long way to explaining the overall change we see in the coral reefs,” Wiedesmeier said.
Coral reef habitat is shrinking faster than ever.
“Over the last 25 years, the coral reef has been shrinking in many parts of the world,” said study author Thomas C. Dyson, a professor at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and a member of the Coral Reef Research Group.
“These declines are due to several factors including increased acidity, bleaching, and ocean acidification.”
Coral reefs provide an important ecosystem service, and they are in many ways, like a city.
But this is changing fast.
“They are disappearing,” said Wiedensmeier, who led the study.
Drosophila, an animal with a long, narrow body, live in coral.
Other animals live in reefs, such as crustaceans and jellyfish, which are not attached to coral.
But these organisms aren’t doing well under the stress of rising temperatures.
“The oceans are a lot like cities: the water level is rising, and there are a range of factors that are affecting the functioning of the city,” Wiesensmeier said, including sea level rise and the effects of climate change on the ocean.
The results of the new study were based on data collected by the Marine Biological Laboratory’s Coral Reef Monitoring Program, which measures coral-building organisms.
Scientists from around the world also collected the data.
The team analyzed data from over 2,000 coral reef sites, and compared it to climate models that predict how climate change will impact the planet over the next 50 years.
The data showed that the global coral reef ecosystem is already on the brink of decline.
“Coral reef ecosystems are under stress,” said the study’s lead author, William J. Luecke, a University of Georgia marine biologist and an expert on coral reefs at the Georgia Institute of Technology.
“There’s a lot of variability within coral reef ecosystems.
That variability is increasing in some parts of tropical coral reefs, and that is causing the decline of the coral.”
The researchers did find that some coral reefs were resilient, however.
Some areas had a “resilience” score, meaning they were able to recover from the loss due to climate warming, they found.
But many reefs were not able to respond to this challenge, and these reefs, like many other reefs, will likely continue to lose coral species to climate changes.
“We don’t know how these reef ecosystems will respond to climate variability in the future,” Wieresmeier told National Geographic.
“For instance, coral reefs can recover from climate warming very well, but we don’t have a way to predict how many species of coral will recover.”
This is not the first time researchers have found a coral-recovery problem in the oceans.
A study published last year found that coral reefs are losing in areas around the globe.
“At the moment, there are about 200 reefs in the world, of which about 60 percent are located in temperate zones and tropical reefs,” Dyson told National Geography.
“That means that the majority of the marine ecosystem is located in the tropical zone, where coral is more resilient than in other regions.”
“This is a very important point,” Wiersmeier said of this new study.
“What we’ve seen in the past is that corals in temperates are losing more than the reefs in tropical zones.”
This trend could be the beginning of a coral rebound, he added.
Coral-recovering reefs are already showing up in parts of southern Africa.
And this is just the beginning.
“In the future, reefs will likely return to their traditional habitats in the southern hemisphere and in temperating zones,” Wienesmeier added.
In other words, reefs that were once found in tropical areas, are now showing up throughout the world.
The problem is that it’s not clear how reefs are going to return to those same habitats in these areas, as they have done for thousands of years.
“You may not even be able to see it, because the corals that are there are very tiny,” said Dyson.
But the researchers are hoping that their findings will be used