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Warming climate damaging reefs, impacting fish July 11,2012   |  Source: IANS

The impact of a warming climate on reefs is already upon us -- complex changes have begun that could fundamentally change what reefs look like in the future. This in turn could impact on fish populations and their availability.

That was the overarching message from a panel of coral reef experts, who are on the forefront of understanding the impact of a rising seawater temperatures and ocean acidification.

The panel included Janice M. Lough of the Australian Institute of Marine Science; John M. Pandolfi of the University of Queensland; Roberto Iglesias Prieto of the National Autonomous University of Mexico; and Philip L. Munday of the James Cook University.

"Tropical coral reef waters are already significantly warmer than they were and the rate of warming is accelerating," said Janice Lough.

"With or without drastic curtailment of greenhouse gas emissions we are facing, for the foreseeable future, changes in the physical environment of present-day coral reefs."

Lough said that over the past century, global temperatures have warmed by 0.7 degrees Celsius and those of the surface tropical oceans by 0.5 degree Celsius. This raising of baseline temperatures has already resulted in widespread coral bleaching events and outbreaks of coral diseases. Current projections


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