Given the dire warnings about the fate of coral reefs in the rapidly warming waters near the equator, scientists are looking into whether it would be a better idea to restore them in the cooler waters of the higher latitudes.

Up to 90 percent of the world’s coral reefs could be dead within the next two decades due to rising sea temperatures, pollution and other factors, with complete global elimination possible by the end of the century, scientists are warning.

University of Hawaii at Manoa biogeographer Renee Setter and her team analyzed sea surface temperature, wave energy, acidity, pollution and overfishing to come to their sobering conclusion.

According to Setter:

“I was saddened to find these results, but I was not entirely shocked as coral already face several stressors and have experienced great degradation in recent years.”

Setter presented the findings of her team’s work at the Ocean Sciences Meeting 2020 in San Diego, California last month.

While some scientists are working on ways to accelerate their growth, the future is still grim for corals. To mitigate that, Setter said:

“Citizens can try to reduce the amount of stressors that coral face in order to prevent degradation of reefs. This could be done by reducing carbon emissions and renewable energy sources as well as eliminating local pollution and reducing overfishing.”

Setter’s future research is centered on finding out whether it might be a better idea to restore corals in higher latitudes where the water is cooler.

“Since coral near the equators may face a great amount of thermal stress, we are interested to see if there are any sites in higher latitudes that may be more viable for restoration.”

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