26 Oct 2009

Plan to freeze coral to save reefs

5:57 pm on 26 October 2009

An international meeting on climate change has heard the prospects of saving the world's coral reefs now appear so bleak that plans are being drawn up to freeze samples to preserve them.

The BBC reports meeting in Denmark took evidence from researchers who say most coral reefs won't survive, even if tough new regulations on greenhouse gas emissions are put into place.

Scientists proposed storing samples of coral species in liquid nitrogen which would allow them to be reintroduced to the seas in the future if global temperatures can be stabilised.

Coral reefs make up less than a quarter of 1% of the ocean's floor but are a key source of food, income and coastal protection for around 500 million people worldwide.

According to recent research, one of the world's most important concentrations of coral - the so-called Coral Triangle in South East Asia - could be destroyed by climate change before the end of this century with significant impacts on food security and livelihoods.