Climate engineering may be the only way to save coral reefs

Lady Elliot Island. Mark Kolbe/Getty Images

Geoengineering the Earth’s climate may be the only way to save coral reefs from mass bleaching, according to research.

Coral bleaching is forecast to become more frequent and more widespread by the middle of this century because of higher water temperatures from climate change.

Research from the Carnegie Institution for Science, the University of Exeter, the Met Office Hadley Centre and the University of Queensland suggest that a technique called Solar Radiation Management (SRM) can reduce the risk of global severe bleaching.

The method involves injecting gas into the stratosphere, forming microscopic particles which reflect some of the sun’s energy.

Professor Peter Cox, co-author of the research and from the University of Exeter, said: “Coral reefs face a dire situation regardless of how intensively society decarbonises the economy.”

He said the study showed that we need to start thinking beyond conventional mitigation of CO2 emissions.

The international study is published in scientific journal, Nature Climate Change.

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