Rising Sea Levels Might Help Coral Reef Islands Grow

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According to a new study published in Geophysical Research Letters, rising sea levels might help coral reef islands grow and not destroy them, as previously believed. Accordingly, when the levels of the ocean waters are on the rise, areas such as the Maldives might develop instead of getting damaged.

As the scientists knew so far, low-lying coral reef islands are usually lower than three meters above sea level, which make them vulnerable to rising sea levels. However, the new study found out that the Maldives developed more than ever when the ocean waters were higher than they are today.

The researchers discovered that large waves triggered by distant storms off the coast of South Africa caused the formation of the Maldives about 400 years ago. These high-energy wave events, as they are known by scientists, displaced coral rubble off the reef in the waters to the land creating the foundations for the reef islands, as reported by EurekAlert.

Rising Sea Levels Might Help Coral Reef Islands Grow

“However, we have found evidence that the Maldivian rim reef islands actually formed under higher sea levels than we have at present. This gives us some optimism that if climate change causes rising sea levels and increases in the magnitude of high-energy wave events in the region, it may actually create the perfect conditions to reactivate the processes that built the reef islands in the first place, rather than drowning them,” explained Dr. Holly East from the Northumbria University, Newcastle.

“As these islands are mostly made from coral, a healthy coral reef is vital to provide the materials for island building. However, this could be problematic as corals face a range of threats under climate change, including increasing sea surface temperatures and ocean acidity. If the reef is unhealthy, we could end up with the perfect building conditions but not the bricks,” she added.

In conclusion, the same situation could happen in other regions around the world, as the rising sea levels might help coral reef islands grow.

Vadim Ioan Caraiman

Vadim is a passionate writer on various topics but especially on stuff related to health, technology, and science. Therefore, for Great Lakes Ledger, Vadim will cover health and Sci&Tech news.