The International Year of the Reef will be launched tomorrow in a ceremony in Washington.
International Year of the Reef 2008 seeks to draw attention to coral reefs as sentinels of the ocean environment. The first major event will be the release of a report detailing the 2005 coral bleaching event in the Caribbean, which affected more than 80% of the reefs in the region. An ongoing scientific mission using autonomous underwater vehicles and other technologies to examine the reefs off Bonaire will be presented live at the kickoff event.
Coral reefs are referred to as the rain forests of the ocean, because they are the most biologically diverse areas in the ocean. Formed over the course of 200 million years, the coral reefs of today are facing unprecedented threats from water pollution, destructive fishing practices, global warming and ocean acidification. Global warming alone could make corals begin to disappear by mid-century, according to recent research.
"On the eve of the International Year of the Reef 2008, the scientists from seven countries are warning that most coral reefs will not survive the rapid increases in global temperatures and atmospheric CO2 that are forecast over this century by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change unless drastic action is taken to curb CO2 emissions," a summary of that research reads. "Even emission curbs will not be enough without concerted management of other threats to these ecosystems."
For more information about the International Year of the Reef, check out these Websites:
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