Science

Australia's Great Barrier Reef Almost Drowned And Died 125,000 Years Ago

By Christie Abagon , Jan 08, 2017 04:59 PM EST
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The Great Barrier Reef located off the coast of Queensland in northeastern Australia, is the largest living structure in the world.  It is home to a wide range of life, including fish, sea turtles, giant clam, seahorse, sea snakes, nudibranch, sea turtles, stingray, sharks and many more.  Good thing it didn't die 125,000 years ago.

Researchers from the University of Sydney found that Australia's natural wonder almost drowned and died during the Last Interglacial period.  This period, Yahoo News said, was marked with higher temperatures, which led to melting of glaciers and polar ice sheets, raising sea levels. 

If Global Warming Continues, The Earth Is Head To The Same Direction As The Last Interglacial Period

Scientists say that both the temperatures and sea levels then were higher than they are now, and they fear that the Earth is headed in the same direction if global warming continues, Morning Ticker reported. 

The study, which was published in the journal Global and Planetary Change, looked at a reef layer older and, at the same time, deeper than the current shallow and exposed one we see to arrive at their conclusions.  To study this specific layer, researchers used some specimens collected in the 1970s, as well as some cored samples taken directly from the reef in 2015.

Current Trends On Climate Change Threaten The Great Barrier Reef's Existence

Investigators found that the reef began growing once again after sea levels stabilized.  The modern-day shallow reef is the last layer of a much thicker reef system, and it grew on top of the previous layer.  But current trends on climate change threaten its existence. 

Just last year, the Great Barrier Reef experienced a massive bleaching which wiped out 22% of the corals. "It is critically important now to bolster the resilience of the reef, and to maximize its natural capacity to recover," said Professor John Pandolfi from the ARC Centre at the University of Queensland.

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