A remarkable new study claims that something happened 125,000 years ago that totally altered the course of its history.
A new study on the Great Barrier Reef suggests that it was nearly destroyed by the last interglacial period more than 125,000 years ago, and indicates what faces us in the future if climate change continues to take hold. The study, pubished in the journal of Global and Planetary Change by the University of Sydney, found that Australia’s most famous natural wonder almost “drowned” and ceased to be due to higher temperatures that raised sea levels.
Temperatures and sea levels at the time were higher than they currently are, and the reasons researchers studied it because it is comparative to the direction Earth is headed in if global warming continues, according to a statement from the university.
Specifically, scientists studied a reef layer older and deeper than the current ones we see that are shallower and exposed. They also compared it with specimens collected in the 1970s. They found that the reef began growing again after sea levels stabilized, but human-induced climate change threatens its existence once again.
“The Great Barrier Reef is like a sponge cake – the modern reef is just the last layer,” Dr Dechnik explained.
“This stage of the reef appears to have come close to drowning and therefore almost died due to major environmental changes,” Associate Professor Webster said.
“The findings highlight the importance of increasing the reef’s resilience now,” Dr Dechnik said.
“In combination with climate change predictions by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and in the absence of improvements to reef management and human impacts, sea-level pressures could tip the reef over the edge, potentially drowning it for good,” Dr Dechnik said.