The Great Barrier Shield is under threat from rising seawater, according to new research.
The research found that the reef is becoming more susceptible to rising sea levels and has the potential to lose almost 60 per cent of its original thickness by the end of the century.
The research, which looked at sea level rise from 1961 to 2013, found that rising sea level could be linked to the Great Lakes system, which is expected to expand significantly by the year 2050.
Dr Chris Stenning from the Australian National University said the Great Pacific Barrier Reef is particularly vulnerable to sea level rises.
“The Great Barrier is a really important species,” he said.
He said the reef’s habitat and coastal areas could be in danger if the world’s seas rise too fast.
“We know the reef has already seen some damage from the rising ocean and we are concerned about what might happen in the future if the seas rise so quickly,” he explained.
“If the reef loses its entire ecosystem and the habitat of its marine life, it could lose its resilience to climate change.”
Dr Stenling said the researchers had not made any predictions on what would happen to the reef once it was under water.
“But we know there are going to be impacts that are going on to the habitat, to the fish populations, to coral reef,” he added.