Coral reefs have already suffered a lot of damage, which is bad news for the environment. However, they play a more important role on the globe, and their disappearance would produce a huge natural disruption. If there were no coral reefs around, lands would experience double damage coming from coastal flooding and triple damage from storms.
Corals hedge us from the effect of the waves
We should protect coral reefs not only to maintain the balance of the ecosystem. A team of researchers from the University of California in Santa Cruz developed a study that predicted the damage coastal flooding could produce if there weren’t enough corals to protect us. As global warming is a constant threat to these creatures, we might witness a major increase in the floods and storms that hit the shore.
Corals are important because they serve as hedges that keep waves from hitting the shore at full force. Also, if sea storms or cyclones get too close, corals are there to absorb the shock. If this hedge didn’t exist, coastal flooding would occur with at least double the damage, causing losses of several billions of dollars.
With no corals to protect us, coastal flooding can get destructive
However, the situation isn’t too bright. We have already suffered massive coral losses, as most shallow reefs have already been damaged. Earth has 44,000 miles of coral near the coasts, which have been victims of global warming and human activity. As a result, coastal flooding has already produced more trouble than before.
The biggest enemy of the corals is warmer seawater, as even the smallest increase can be fatal. Heatwaves have already destroyed about 30 percent of the Great Barrier Reef. If seas keep getting warmer even by a few degrees, we might face the biggest coral extinction event in history.
The study on the effect of corals on coastal flooding was published in the journal Nature Communications.
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