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Great Barrier Reef: Ancient coral samples show icon could recover, but scientists warn of new threats

The ABC’s Kathy McLeish reports (15.1.17) on new research into the Great Barrier Reef’s history of adapting to changes in climatic and ocean conditions.

‘The Great Barrier Reef once came close to extinction, new research into its history shows, which scientists say raises concerns for its future.

‘Scientists said core samples from an ancient reef show it could survive a sea level rise similar to that currently predicted, but warn it was facing extra threats this time round from ocean acidification and sediment.

‘Marine geologist Dr Belinda Dechnik, from the University of Sydney, is lead author of the report and part of an international team examining ancient core samples drilled from deep within the reef.

‘The core samples are valuable time capsules from a period known as the Last Interglacial, which came after the second last ice age.

‘Back then, water from melting ice sheets was inundating coastlines around the world and it was nearly fatal for the reef.

‘Dr Dechnik said what scientists had discovered was both reassuring and a cause for real concern.’

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