University of Queensland (UQ) lead researcher Daniel Harris said the study has shown that tropical coastlines are at a greater immediate risk of erosion from increases in wave heights due to the loss of live corals.
Alessio Rovere placing wave sensors on the reef crest, Haapiti, Moorea. (Photo: E. Casella)
“We examined wave processes at coral reefs in Moorea and Tahiti in French Polynesia, and modeled future wave heights near the coastline by changing variables such as coral reef health and sea level,” Rovere said.
“The findings suggest that actively maintaining the health of coral reefs could reduce some of the negative impacts of sea level rise on tropical coastlines.”
Harris said the study showed that authorities and scientists-need to adjust the methods of determining the erosion risk on tropical coastlines to include measurements of the health of coral reefs.
Adapted from a University of Queensland press release.
The field component of this research was supported in part by the local organizers of the World Surf League (WSL) professional surf competition, Billabong Pro Tahiti. WSL is a partner of Columbia University’s Center for Climate and Life.