STATES CHRONICLE — A recent study discovered that the Great Barrier Reef is not at its first close brush with destruction as the natural formation could have almost disappeared some 125,000 years ago.
The Great Barrier Reef has been the cause of many discoveries. More recently, it has also turned into a cause of great concern. Studies show that the area’s bleaching issues may lead to its destruction.
However, a recent study made a surprising new find. The area’s latest surprise is that we may not have known it, at all. The largest reef could have potentially drowned some many thousands of years ago.
The Great Barrier Reef is the biggest coral reef system in the world. It covers about 133,000 square miles. It is stretched over 1,400 miles and includes about 900 islands. The Great Barrier host more than 2,900 individual reefs.
The latest research on the area was carried out by Australia researchers. They are part of the University of Sydney. Research was led by Belinda Dechnik. She is part of the University of Sydney’s School of Geosciences Geocoastal Research Group.
Research results were released earlier. They were published in the Global and Planetary Change journal. The study will be released in the February issue and titled as follows. “The evolution of the Great Barrier Reef during the Last Interglacial Period.”
Studies revealed an unexpected fact. Climate changes might have led to the complete destruction of the Great Barrier Reef. As such, modern humans may not have even known it.
The area was close to drowning some 125,000 million years ago. This period marks the beginning of the Last Interglacial period. An interglacial is a geological interval between glacial periods. It separates consecutive such eras in an ice age.
The interglacial is characterized by a warmer global average temperature. It is believed to last some thousands of years.
During the said time, the Great Barrier was almost destroyed by the sea. Its water levels were noted to have risen rapidly. Their increase was determined by the global temperature changes. Polar ice sheets and glaciers were determined to have melted.
As such, the following may seem quite surprising. But the Great Barrier Reef almost drowned. The aforementioned lead went to offer details. Dechnik pointed out the reef’s resilience. She stated that this is the first study to offer an insight into the period.
The respective era was characterized by rapid and great environmental changes. These potentially included the mass collapse of ice sheets.
This look into the past may offer a solution for the future. Our planet is also going through significant changes. Temperatures 125,000 years ago were higher. However, Earth’s average temperature has been rising constantly.
Climate changes have long since worried scientists. Their relation with the Great Barrier Reef has been a specific cause of concern. Dr. Dechnik drew attention to the area’s vulnerability.
According to her, the reef could be in an even greater danger. Predictions estimate further climate changes. And scientists consider that reef management should be improved. It should help it deal better with human impacts and sea-level pressures.
Other studies show that the area could suffer from an annual bleaching process. This could span over the next 100 years. An estimated 99 percent of the Barrier Reef could be affected by the process.
The Australian research also provided an accurate age identification. This targeted the fossil reef that grew before our modern Barrier Reef. Dr. Dechnik explained that the Great Barrier Reef is a multi-layered organism. The current one is just its latest.
This analyzed second-to-last layer revealed its potential drowning. The layer was determined to be in between 129,000 and 121,000 years old.
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