Le barriere coralline sono destinate a scomparire?

di Paola P. 63

coralliLe barriere coralline sono destinate alla scomparsa? Questo il titolo di un convegno che si è svolto presso l’American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), nel corso della conferenza annuale tenutasi a San Diego, in California. E, stando a quanto è emerso nel corso del dibattito, si tratta di un argomento che non dovrebbe essere preso tanto alla leggera.

Il dottor Simon Donner, ricercatore del dipartimento di geografia presso la University of British Columbia, ha ricevuto i finanziamenti per la sua ricerca sullo stato di salute dei coralli dal Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council. Esponendo i risultati del suo studio, Donner ha parlato della vulnerabilità delle barriere coralline ai cambiamenti climatici dovuta alle temperature delle acque oceaniche in costante aumento.

Lo studio di Donner si è basato su un dato evidente ed innegabile ovvero lo sbiancamento dei coralli. I coralli ottengono la maggior parte della loro energia dalle alghe microscopiche che vivono nei loro tessuti. Queste alghe sono colorate ed è questo che dà ai coralli quelle tonalità vivaci che da sempre li contraddistinguono. Quando i fattori ambientali cambiano rispetto ai valori cui i coralli sono abituati (con il riscaldamento eccessivo delle acque, primo tra tutti), la simbiosi tra i coralli e le alghe si rompe e i coralli espellono le alghe e iniziano a sbiancare. Il corallo viene quindi privato della sua fonte di energia e muore.

Il dottor Donner ha studiato la frequenza dei fenomeni di sbiancamento dei coralli, le loro conseguenze e il legame con gli oceani più caldi, affermando che eventi di sbiancamento dei coralli così massicci trent’anni fa sarebbero sembrati alquanto inverosimili e imprevedibili.
Le prospettive future non sembrano ottimistiche:

“Anche se abbiamo dato un freno alle emissioni, il riscaldamento non si ferma e lo sbiancamento dei coralli, a breve, riguarderà le barriere coralline di tutto il mondo. Tenuto conto che centinaia di milioni di persone che vivono ai tropici dipendono dalle barriere coralline per il cibo, il reddito e il turismo, la perdita di barriere è un problema serio.”

Tuttavia le prospettive non sono completamente desolanti. Le barriere coralline non si estingueranno completamente ma sopravviveranno in alcuni habitat, come le zone ombreggiate.  Anche se ci sarà una generale perdita nella copertura del corallo ed un crollo della struttura fisica delle scogliere.

[Fonte: Sciencedaily]

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