Climate Change Threatens Survival of Coral Reefs Around the Globe

Apr 18, 2024

More than half of coral reefs in the world’s oceans are experiencing a “bleaching event.” It puts them in danger. Experts warn that it's another sign that climate change is hurting the overall health of our planet.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) provided details of the coral reef crisis in an announcement on Monday.

Colorful corals are fading to shades of white. This “bleaching” is because of high water temperatures. They cause corals to expel algae that the reefs need to thrive. Climate change is causing the bleaching. It's fueled by greenhouse gasses. Bleached corals can return to life. But if the ocean stays too hot for too long, they can die altogether.

Coral reefs play a critical role in our ecosystem. They provide habitats for fish and other ocean animals. They also offer protection from predators. The economic value of the world’s coral reefs has been estimated at $2.7 trillion annually.

Derek Manzello is the coordinator of NOAA’s Coral Reef Watch program. It monitors bleaching events. It tries to predict them, too. Manzello spoke to The New York Times. He said that based on water temperatures around the world, more than 54% of coral reefs have suffered heat-related bleaching.

Coral reef deaths have been confirmed around Florida and in the Caribbean Sea. But it’s too early to predict just how much of the oceans’ coral reefs will ultimately perish, the Times reported.

“This is scary, because coral reefs are so important,” Manzello told the Times.

Ocean temperatures have soared over the past year. Climate change has been the primary cause, scientists say.

Reflect: How can cataloging information and creating databases help protect the environment?

Image of bleached coral from Reuters.

Based on numbers that appear in the story, what is the estimated value of the world’s coral reefs? (Common Core RI.5.1; RI.6.1)
a. $2.7 trillion yearly
b. $27 trillion yearly
c. $54 trillion yearly
d. $5.4 trillion yearly
For more formative assessments, visit to start a free trial.

News brought to you by The Juice

Start a free trial today