Everyone heard about coral reefs before, but scientists still do not know many things about them and how the oceans benefit from these reefs.
NASA researchers from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory decided to develop a program that will observe the coral reefs from a distance of 23,000 feet. The study will last three years, and it aims to gather as much information as possible about the coral reefs.
Scientists will be able to analyze the oceans thanks to a set of instruments attached to an aircraft that will regularly fly. Besides learning more about the reefs, researchers will be able to establish the consequences of pollution, acidification, and human ignorance.
Coral reefs are in fact vital and delicate ecosystem as they are the ideal habitat for most of the fish that humans consume. Furthermore, these reefs act as a barrier, protecting the shorelines from rising ocean levels and dangerous storm surges.
According to Eric Hochberg, lead researcher of the project, known as the Coral Reef Airborne Laboratory (CORAL), coral reefs also play a significant role in the world economy as many tourists are attracted to these areas to practice snorkeling and diving.
However, thanks to the latest development in the medical field, coral reefs proved to be a vital source for pharmaceutical applications, such as painkillers that do not lead to addiction.
Unfortunately, the statistics from the International Society for Reef Studies Consensus Statement showed that 50 percent of the world’s coral reefs have already been destroyed or critically degraded by local factors and human excess during the last few decades.
According to Julia Baum, assistant professor of biology at the University of Victoria in British Columbia, the data that will be gathered thanks to this extensive research on coral reefs will prove to be very useful in understanding how important are coral reefs for the balance of the ecosystem.
Furthermore, scientists will be able to come up with new strategies to tackle all the factors that brought the degradation of coral reefs. The lack of data was another reason why coral reefs became so critically affected, as we were more preoccupied about space instead of taking care of our planet.
CORAL scientists announced that all data will be available to the public at the end of the study. Hopefully, the results will raise awareness regarding the situation of coral reefs.
Image Source:Earth Times