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Jan 2, 2009

In 2006, I was fortunate enough to travel to spend two weeks vacationing in Australia. While there were many highlights to the trip, one of the ones that stands out most vividly in my mind was the day we spent snorkeling along the Great Barrier Reef. What I saw beneath the water was truly amazing. The brilliantly colored fish, the vast expanses of coral and the clear water will live in my memory forever.

That's why I was so sad to read about a study published in Science magazine that found the corals on the Great Barrier Reef are growing at the slowest rate they have in more than 400 years--and researchers think global warming is to blame:

Researchers examined more than 300 coral samples, some more than 400 years old, taken from Reef sites.

While the study looked only at Great Barrier Reef samples, the findings have implications for reefs around the world.

The study concluded corals grew steadily until 1990, when samples revealed a "severe and sudden decline" in growth.

Dr De'ath, of the Australian Institute of Marine Science in Townsville, said corals were likely reacting to the increased acidity of the ocean due to higher levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. This acidification made it harder for corals to form skeletons, he said.

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority Chairman, Dr. Russel Reichelt, put it even more plainly: "This report is adding to the significant amount of evidence that the climate change impacts on the reef are real and they have been manifesting themselves more strongly in the last 20 years."

Using an analogy of the rock candy elementary school kids grow in science class, the Christian Science Monitor explains exactly what this research means for coral reefs. And it draws the direct connection to human activity that is responsible for the global warming and ocean acidification that's causing the problems.

There is hope for the Great Barrier Reef and other sites, but it takes us banding together as a world to fight global warming and to ensure the damage we've already done stops today!

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Posted: Jan 2, 2009 4:23pm

 

 
 
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LiAnna D.
, 1
San Francisco, CA, USA
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