Marine heat waves are the most dangerous effect of global warming on coral reefs worldwide. In 2016 and 2017 alone, these heat waves killed almost half of the Great Barrier Reef corals. And it would take more than ten years without any other threat for the reef to recover. Fortunately, the scientists employed geoengineering and “coral farming” to save the world’s endangered coral reefs.
However, more important, the side effects of the global warming on the oceans wouldn’t only affect corals, as it happened in 2016 and 2017. Coral reefs are home of many other marine creatures that use the corals for protection and food. It’s like a symbiosis, at most of the time. And when the corals die, so do those marine animals that rely on them to survive.
Luckily, there was no coral bleaching episode so far in the summer of 2018, but John Veron, the world’s top coral reef expert, believes that a significant, widespread coral bleaching event would occur within seven years from now. If that would happen, the majority of the coral in the world’s ocean will die.
Saving the world’s endangered coral reefs with geoengineering and “coral farming”
The experts for the Commonwealth and Queensland governments came up with the idea to protect the threatened Great Barrier Reef by lowering the water’s temperature. For that, they developed three geoengineering methods.
The first method employs placing an ultra-thin reflective film on top of the water above the coral reef. The film, composed of calcium carbonate, would reflect the sunlight, reducing the UV radiations, as well as the water’s temperature. Similarly in theory, but entirely different in practice, the second method employs the installation of a sailing cloth a few feet above the surface of the water to reflect the sunlight.
The third way innovated by the experts is called “Marine Cloud Brightening,” and it would use a small pump to spray the salt particles from the ocean water high into the clouds to encourage the formation of more reflective droplets.
On the other hand, another project led by Rob Giason from the Reef Restoration Foundation debated “coral farming” and the development of a coral nursery. The initial tests were successful.
“We’re very encouraged by what we see. We started with around 24 corals, and within seven months we’re up to about 400,” said Rob Giason.
Jasmine holds a Master’s in Journalism from Ryerson University in Toronto and writes professionally in a broad variety of genres. She has worked as a senior manager in public relations and communications for major telecommunication companies, and is the former Deputy Director for Media Relations with the Modern Coalition. Jasmine writes primarily in our LGBTTQQIAAP and Science section.