Coral reefs make waves 70% smaller, reducing damage from storms and floods.

Over the next few decades tens of millions of people will be affected by flooding due to rising sea levels [1]. It has been seen during numerous hurricanes and typhoons that coastal ecosystems can protect the land and the people that live on it from stormy seas [1]. Indeed, coral reefs reduce the height of waves by 70% on average, and reduce the energy of the waves by 97% [2]. In comparison, salt marshes reduce wave height by 72%, seagrass or kelp beds by 36%, and mangroves by 31% [1]. Coral reefs are particularly important because they exist in very exposed areas where waves are big, making the potential damage from storms worse [1,2].

Unfortunately, we are expected to lose 70-90% of coral reefs if we reach 1.5°C of global warming, or over 99% with 2°C of warming [3]. Doing all we can to protect and restore coral reefs [6] and other ecosystems [5] would provide huge benefits for society in terms of protection from storms, in addition to multiple other benefits like tourism and saving wildlife [1,2].

References

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