Sun, Apr 23, 2017 - Page 9 News List

Large sections of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef found dead
科學家發現澳洲大堡礁珊瑚大量死亡

An undated photo taken by Greg Torda, released by ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies on April 10, shows a diver examining bleaching on a coral reef on Orpheus Island, Australia.
潛水人員檢視澳洲澳費斯島珊瑚礁的白化現象,葛列格‧托達攝,拍攝日期不詳,發表於四月十日ARC珊瑚礁卓越研究中心資料。

Photo: AFP
照片:法新社

The Great Barrier Reef in Australia has long been one of the world’s most magnificent natural wonders. But huge sections of the Great Barrier Reef, stretching across hundreds of miles of its most pristine northern sector, were recently found to be dead, killed last year by overheated seawater.

The state of coral reefs is a telling sign of the health of the seas. Their distress and death are yet another marker of the ravages of global climate change.

If most of the world’s coral reefs die, as scientists fear is increasingly likely, some of the richest and most colorful life in the ocean could be lost, along with huge sums from reef tourism. In poorer countries, lives are at stake: hundreds of millions of people get their protein primarily from reef fish, and the loss of that food supply could become a humanitarian crisis.

Corals require warm water to thrive, but they are exquisitely sensitive to extra heat. Just 1 to 1.5 degrees Celsius of excess warming can sometimes kill the tiny creatures.

Globally, the ocean has warmed by about 0.8 degrees Celsius since the late 19th century, by a conservative calculation, and a bit more in the tropics, home to many reefs. An additional kick was supplied by an El Nino weather pattern that peaked in 2016 and temporarily warmed much of the surface of the planet, causing the hottest year in a historical record dating to 1880.

Bleaching indicates that corals are under heat stress, but they do not always die and cooler water can help them recover. However, recent surveys of the Great Barrier Reef documented that extensive patches of reef had in fact died, and would not be likely to recover soon, if at all.

TODAY’S WORDS
今日單字

1. global climate change n. phr.

全球氣候變遷

(quan2 qiu2 qi4 hou4 bian4 qian1)

2. coral reef n. phr.

珊瑚礁 (shan1 hu2 jiao1)

3. protein n.

蛋白質 (dan4 bai2 zhi2)


This article is an edited version of a piece that originally appeared in the New York Times

(New York Times)

澳洲的大堡礁是世界上最壯麗的自然奇景之一,但是科學家最近發現,因為去年海水過熱,在大堡礁最原始且長達數百英里的北段區域中,已有大量珊瑚礁死亡。

珊瑚礁的狀況是海洋健康程度的重要指標,而其衰弱與死亡也可用以衡量全球氣候變遷所造成的環境傷害。

如果世界上大部分的珊瑚礁都死了,就如科學家們所日益擔心的,世界將失去許多豐富且多彩多姿的海洋生態,珊瑚礁旅遊所帶來的巨額收入也將不復存在。在較貧窮的國家,珊瑚礁的消失還可能威脅到人命:有數億人主要依靠珊瑚礁魚類獲得蛋白質,而這種食物的消失可能會演變為人類的生存危機。

珊瑚需要溫暖的海水才能茁壯成長,但它們也對過高的溫度極為敏感。即便只是高出攝氏一到一點五度,也有可能會導致其死亡。

按保守估計,全球海洋溫度自十九世紀末以來已經上升了大約攝氏零點八度,在熱帶地區甚至更高一點,而珊瑚礁即大多生長在熱帶地區。二○一六年達到頂峰的聖嬰現象,也讓地球表面溫度短暫升高,導致去年成為一八八○年有歷史記錄以來最熱的一年。

珊瑚礁的白化現象表示珊瑚正在承受高溫的壓力,但它並不一定會死亡,只要海水溫度降低就能恢復。然而,近期調研顯示,大堡礁很多區域的珊瑚礁實際上已經死亡,就算能再度生長,在短期內也無法恢復。

本文為編輯後的版本,英文原文已於紐約時報刊登

(台北時報編譯林俐凱譯)

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