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Australia's Great Barrier Reef 'facing extinction': report.

SYDNEY, Jan. 30 Kyodo

Australia's Great Barrier Reef will be ''functionally extinct'' within decades if the pace of global warming is not slowed, an Australian newspaper reported Tuesday.

Quoting a draft report from the International Panel on Climate Change, The Age said coral bleaching in the Great Barrier Reef is likely to become an annual occurrence by as early as 2030 because of warmer, more acidic seas.

It takes a decade for coral to begin recovering from bleaching. But with average temperatures set to increase by about 3 C this century, there is a risk the reef will be killed outright.

The reef is one of several iconic areas of Australia identified in the report as ''key hot spots'' for climate vulnerability, the newspaper said. Others include Kakadu National Park's wetlands, the Murray-Darling Basin and alpine zones in southern Australia.

More than 2 million people visit the reef each year, generating in excess of A$2 billion (about $1.5 billion) in tourism dollars and 63,000 jobs, making tourism a major earner for the Australian economy.

The Great Barrier Reef, in the eastern state of Queensland, is the world's largest coral reef system and is listed as a World Heritage area.

The panel is due to release its findings in Paris later this week.
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Publication:Asian Economic News
Date:Feb 5, 2007
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