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Global warming already affecting fragile coral reef eco-system, say experts

11 Jul 2012

The Irish Times

FRANK McDONALD, Environment Editor

RISING SEA temperatures and the acidification of oceans due to global warming will "demonstrably change" coral reefs, one of the world's most fragile eco-systems, according to a panel of experts.

"The impact of a warming climate on reefs is not a future event - complex changes have already begun that could fundamentally change what reefs look like in the future," the International Coral Reef Symposium heard yesterday in Cairns, Australia.

The symposium, held every four years, is described as a "hotbed of the latest advances in coral reef science" and the research presented in Cairns is "fundamental in informing international and national policies and the sustainable use of coral reefs globally".

"Tropical coral reef waters are already significantly warmer than they were and the rate of warming is accelerating," said Dr Janice Lough, of the Australian Institute of Marine Science. "We are facing, for the foreseeable future, changes in their physical environment."

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