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Rising sea levels could weaken coral reefs’ protective influence on Brazil’s coast

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Rising sea levels could diminish the ability of Brazil’s coral reef systems to weaken incoming ocean waves, resulting in stronger waves hitting populated areas on the Brazilian coastline, according to new research published in Earth’s Future, a journal of the American Geophysical Union.

The new study examined the effects of sea level rise on the energy of waves reaching the coastline of northeast Brazil, home to many famous beaches and the largest coral reef system in the South Atlantic. These reefs buffer waves hitting the coast and protect the shore from erosion. The study’s authors found higher sea levels means waves hitting the coastline will pass further above the coral reefs than they do now, reducing the reefs’ protective influence.

As a result, these waves will reach the coast with up to a 90 percent increase in power and will accelerate erosion of the coastline, according to the new study. The new results support previous studies that have found sea level rise will boost wave power, negatively impacting coral reef ecosystems and populated coastal areas…More

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