Climate change threatens Australia’s low-lying coral reef islands
University of Sydney researchers have found 25 percent of Australia’s coral islands, land masses formed by reefs, currently face high to very high risk of being wiped out by climate change.
The findings, published in the latest edition of the journal Science of the Total Environment, identified that all of the 56 investigated Australian coral islands are exposed to some degree of climate risk but that three small, unvegetated coral islands in Western Australia, on Scott, Clerke and Imperieuse reefs, are the most vulnerable
The research introduces an innovative method to evaluate and categorise coral reef islands based on their risk from and resilience to climate change.
The risk system, built using open-access ocean climate data and satellite imagery that could be applied globally, provides decision-makers with a tool to prioritise protection efforts for vulnerable coral islands in the era of rapid climate change.