Coral reefs work as nature’s sea walls

A group of researchers, including Mike Beck and Christine Shepard, combed the literature on coral reefs and wave breaking. They extracted quantitative data from 27 studies across the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans — and they found that intact coral reefs reduce wave energy by 97% and wave height by 84%. The study, published in the journal Nature Communications found that the risk reduction provided by reefs is relevant to some 200 million people worldwide.  At a time when towns, cities and countries are making major investments in climate and weather-related hazard protection, the authors found that coral reef protection makes economic, ecological and practical, risk-reduction sense when compared with artificial solutions such as breakwaters.

Download the full paper (link).

Read co-author Mike Beck’s summary of the study and explanation of how implementing better habitat management and restoration (particularly coral reefs) as part of storm risk reduction has become a new field of science and practical application. (link to Blog post)

Related Articles:

Coral Reefs Soften Ocean’s Fury for Millions of Coastal Dwellers . Read how economics, location, restoration and threat of coral bleaching may all effect healthy reefs and the 200 million people worldwide that rely on them.

2012 World Risk Report. Who is at risk from natural disasters, what contributes to this risk and what can be done about it?