The Great Barrier Coast is one of Australia’s most pristine areas, home to many species of animals, and one of the largest fisheries on the planet.
It is also one of our most expensive, and there are some concerns that the Great Lakes will be damaged if climate change causes more severe impacts.
A new study is calling for the federal government to put a price on carbon emissions to help fund environmental mitigation projects.
A joint statement from scientists from the Australian Research Council, CSIRO and University of New South Wales called for the carbon price to be implemented by 2020, and set at a rate that would help fund climate change mitigation projects across the world.
“The Great Barrier is one our most significant natural heritage sites, and the reef is home to a number of species that rely on this ecosystem,” said lead author of the study Dr Sarah Dolan.
“These species depend on the carbonate carbonate that is in the rocks, and we know that as the world warms the reef will lose the carbon dioxide that it holds.”
The study has identified areas of the Great Coral and Great Barrier Islands, where the Great Red Curlew is the largest species, and suggested they could be affected by climate change if CO2 emissions continue to increase. “
While we don’t yet know how much carbon dioxide the reef holds, the fact that the CO2 is released into the atmosphere when carbonate is mined or discharged is a risk for these species.”
The study has identified areas of the Great Coral and Great Barrier Islands, where the Great Red Curlew is the largest species, and suggested they could be affected by climate change if CO2 emissions continue to increase.
“In these areas the CO 2 is released and that could cause the coral and other animals that depend on this coral ecosystem to be impacted,” Dr Dolan said.
The study found that CO2 levels in the reef increased by about 0.2 per cent in the last decade, which means the amount of carbon dioxide released into global waters rose by 0.8 per cent.
“The study finds that CO 2 levels in reef waters have risen by about 8 per cent since the start of the industrial revolution and are now increasing by up to 10 per cent,” Dr. Dolan added.
The research also found that the coral in these areas are not taking up carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, which is a worrying trend.
“We don’t know what the future will bring to the reef, but we know it will not be the same as what it was in the late 20th century, and that means the reef needs to adapt,” Dr Ian Fenton, lead author and research fellow at the University of Sydney’s School of Biological Sciences, said.
“What we can do is try to mitigate the impacts of climate change by changing the behaviour of the reef.”
Dr Dola said while there was still much work to do, the reef was already in the process of dealing with its impacts.
“As we continue to move towards climate mitigation, we need to ensure that the ecosystem is adapting,” she said.