Washington: A new study has revealed that coral reefs may be able to adapt to moderate climate warming, improving their chance of surviving through the end of this century, if there are large reductions in carbon dioxide emissions.
"Earlier modeling work suggested that coral reefs would be gone by the middle of this century. Our study shows that if corals can adapt to warming that has occurred over the past 40 to 60 years, some coral reefs may persist through the end of this century," study lead author Cheryl Logan from California State University said.
Warm water can contribute to a potentially fatal process known as coral "bleaching," in which reef-building corals eject algae living inside their tissues.
The study explored a range of possible coral adaptive responses to thermal stress previously identified by the scientific community. It suggested that coral reefs may be more resilient than previously thought due to past studies that did not consider effects of possible adaptation.
The study projected that, through genetic adaptation, the reefs could reduce the currently projected rate of temperature-induced bleaching by 20 to 80 percent of levels expected by the year 2100, if there are large reductions in carbon dioxide emissions.
The study is published in the journal Global Change Biology.