Queensland U Scientists Propose Shade Cloth to Protect Reefs

By @vitthernandez on

To save Australia's reefs and marine life, scientists from the University of Queensland are proposing new methods for protection against heat stress such as the use of shade cloth.

Other proposals made by the study led by Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, director of the Global Change Climate Institute of the university, in a paper published Monday in Nature Climate Change include the application of low-voltage electrical current to stimulate coral growth, adding base minerals such as carbonates and silicates to the oceans and converting carbon dioxide from land-based waste into dissolved bicarbonates.

"It's unwise to assume we will be able to stabilise atmospheric CO2 at levels necessary to prevent ongoing damage to marine ecosystems," The Conversation quoted the lead author.

"In lieu of dealing with the core problem - increasing emissions of greenhouse gases - these techniques and approaches could ultimately represent the last resort," Mr Hoegh-Guldberg explained.

He warned that if current environmental degradation continues, atmospheric carbon dioxide could rise to over 80 per cent about pre-industrial levels by 2050. The result would be the inability of marine species to survive because of the increasing ocean temperature and acidity.

In proposing the unconventional methods to address the problem caused by climate change, the scientists said current actions based on national and international policies will not be sufficient to counter the effect of CO2 emission given the current trends.

He said shade clothing would protect corals from heat stress that causes bleaching and death. Electric current could stimulate coral growth and mitigate the impact of bleaching, while genetic engineering could help develop biological resistance and adaptation among species. The addition of base minerals and silicates aims to neutralize acidity.

Because of climate change, experts have observed several tropical species to have migrated to Australian waters which are cooler.

However, while pointing out that such measures are small-scale solutions, CSIRO marine and atmospheric research scientist Alistair Hobday acknowledged that unique solutions are needed especially with the situation worsens and things become very desperate.

He cited other scientific interventions to address climate change such as placing light-coloured sand over black sand in beaches to help turtle reproduction and rescuing chicks during extreme flooding and then returning them to the nest.