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Still Waters

Red Sea coral growth 'to halt by 2070'

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A species of coral in the Red Sea could stop growing by 2070 if current warming trends continue, say scientists.

A team of US researchers, using 3D technology, said that the rate of growth of Diploastrea heliopara had declined by 30% since 1998.

Rising sea surface temperature was already "driving dramatic changes" in the growth rate in the important reef-building organism, they observed.

The findings have been published in the journal Science.

Co-author Anne Cohen, a research specialist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) in the US, explained that the team were able to measure the decline in growth by examining core samples from coral skeletons.

"The coral is an animal, and the colony made up of millions of tiny, little animals - and they together build this huge thing that is seven metres in diameter," she told BBC News.

"As they are growing, they are building this calcium carbonate skeleton that the animal is basically leaving behind. If you cut through a colony, only the very top layer is actually living - the rest of it is all dead.

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