EURONG, Australia, July 7 (UPI) -- Australia's Great Barrier Reef will to be the first of the world's great coral reefs to die from warming water, a leading marine scientist said.
"There is no way out, no loopholes. The Great Barrier Reef will be over within 20 years or so," said Charlie Veron, former chief scientist of the Australian Institute of Marine Science.
Veron commented Monday as a consortium of reef experts meeting in London predicted climate change would doom coral reefs around the world by the middle of this century, The Times of London reported Tuesday.
"This is critical. This is reality," Veron said.
In what is known as "bleaching events," warming water causes coral polyps to eject the symbiotic algae that provide them with nutrients, said Alex Rogers, scientific director of the International Program on the State of the Ocean.
"Coral reefs are the most sensitive of marine ecosystems," Rogers said, calling for marine conservation groups to find ways to boost the resilience of reefs.