A wall built across the Great Barrier Reef could protect Australia’s coast from climate change, scientists have said.
They said the barrier could block rising seas by blocking the flow of warm, salty water back to the mainland.
The barrier could also help keep the waters within a 1.8 degree Celsius (2 degrees Fahrenheit) area of warming by protecting coastal areas.
[Infographic: How the Barrier Reef is changing]The barrier could protect the Great South Coast, the Great Northern Reef and parts of the Great Indian Ocean from the impacts of rising seas, according to the research by scientists from the Australian National University (ANU) and the Queensland Department of Environment.
The research was published on Tuesday (April 21).
Scientists estimate that around 2.3 million people live within a 10 kilometer (6 mile) zone of sea level rise from rising temperatures.
They estimate that about 5 percent of all the world’s population lives within a 15 kilometer zone of the sea level.
“If you look at the coastal communities along Australia’s Great Barrier and its subtropical shelf, most of the areas that have been most impacted by climate change are areas that are well above sea level,” lead author of the study, James Ritchie, said in a statement.
“There’s been a very significant change in these coastal communities, where there are a lot of people living close to the coast and they have been affected by sea level rises.”
Ritchie and his team measured the size of the barrier and compared it to a number of factors.
They found that the barrier was about 10 centimeters higher than the ocean.
They also found that in the region surrounding the Barrier, there was more sediment in the ocean and that the average thickness of the reef was about 30 centimeters.
[Photos: Barrier Reef in the Changing Climate] The researchers also found the average water depth in the Great Australian Bight was about one meter (6 feet).
It was the same for the Great Southern Bight, the Western Australian Channel and the Northern Territory’s Great Sand.
In the Great Western Bight of Queensland, there were no sea levels at all.
“The Great Barrier Barrier Reef provides a major gateway for water for many Australian communities, including the Great Rivers and Great Barrier Strait, which are important in providing the bulk of water for the region,” Ritchie said.
“We’ve seen evidence of climate change impact on the reef and it has an impact on people’s lives and livelihoods.”
The research team also found a connection between the amount of saltwater that flows into the reef from the Great Ocean and the height of the Barrier Barrier, the largest in the world.
The researchers found that when the barrier is higher, the water flows lower.
The barriers height and salinity were correlated with the amount and type of sand, which in turn was correlated with sea level, the researchers said.
Ritchie said the barriers height could be a proxy for sea level as the barrier height is a function of the amount, type and depth of the sand.
He said the research is a good first step to understanding the link between the barrier, the reef’s salinity and the salinity of the water.
The research is published in the journal Science Advances.
Follow Elizabeth Palermo on Twitter: @elizabethpalermo and Matt Lee on Twitter at @matt_lee_abc.