Experts in Australia reported that warm seas caused damage to an underwater forest. Earlier this year, large volumes of coral from the Great Barrier Reef has died off, shocking Australians. This was also because of warm sea waters, which pushed the corals past their optimal survival temperature.
The warm seas are apparently linked to climate change. Now, a team of researchers has discovered that another ecosystem on the coast of Australia is in trouble. We’re talking about the Great Southern Reef, covering a huge area along the southern coasts.
Many Americans know kelp forests from California, where these marine organisms can grow to over 100 feet tall. The kelp off Australia’s coasts in the south aren’t as tall, but they are the essential building blocks of a large ecosystem.
Thomas Wernberg, marine biologist, estimated that the Southern Reef has a value of $10 billion yearly, economically speaking. However, in 2011 temperatures rose between 37 and 41 degrees above normal periods, representing the hottest in recorded history. These temperatures have taken their toll on the ecosystem.
South from Kalbarri, kelp forests died in huge numbers, pointing to the fact that temperatures exceeded the optimal temperature for kelps. In a couple of months, over an area of hundreds of kilometers, kelp forests have nearly disappeared.
A recent study that compiled many other surveys found that in 2010 kelp covered 70% of reefs in coastal Australia, only to plummet by 43%, which means 371 square miles.
Experts believe this is a dramatic climate-driven shift, which cannot be reversed unless the warming trend is stopped or reversed. Now, many tropical species of fish colonized the otherwise temperate sea waters.
All in all, scientists are discovering shocking patterns of destruction. Ecosystems are affected by increases in temperatures, and this fits the “dangerous climate change” definition completely. Experts warn that unless people do something about climate change, ecosystems won’t be able to adapt by themselves.
Scientists are powerless before kelp forests’ extinction. They believe that if kelps don’t grow back in a few years, something may be deeply wrong. What is your opinion on the Global Warming? Do you think it’s real, or maybe just a scientific conspiracy? Please let us know by posting a comment below.
Image Source – Wikipedia