Geoengineering experiments to protect the Great Barrier Reef highlight the need for Australian law to catch up, research

phys.org | 4/3/2019 | Staff
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More robust rules are needed to ensure the public acceptability of new technologies which aim to protect Australia's Great Barrier Reef from further coral bleaching due to climate change, researchers argue. This includes a policy on where geoengineering fits in the overall response to climate change.

In a new paper released today in the peer reviewed journal Climate Policy, academics from the University of Tasmania are calling for robust governance including ensuring proper risk assessments are carried out and the public are fully consulted.

Intergovernmental - Panel - Climate - Change - IPCC

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) projects that up to 99 percent of the world's coral reefs will be lost with 2C of warming. Even if the Paris Agreement's most optimistic target of capping warming at 1.5C is met, the world is still facing the loss of 70 to 90 percent of the world's coral reefs. The gradual rise in ocean temperatures will contribute to this loss. But the main driver is the increased frequency and intensity of marine heatwaves. Warm water temperatures cause coral to expel zooxanthellae, leading to coral bleaching. Australia's Great Barrier Reef – a national and international icon – has lost 50 percent of its coral cover in the past 3 years as a result of just two consecutive bleaching events.

Proposals to protect the reef include two which involve "shading" the reef to reduce warming of shallow waters from direct exposure to the sun. One proposal is the application of a biodegradable polymer film that can act like a 'sunscreen' for coral. The other involves increasing the brightness of clouds over the GBR so they reflect more solar energy back into space. This marine cloud brightening proposal is a type of local solar radiation management. This...
(Excerpt) Read more at: phys.org
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