Researchers have come up with an ambitious new project that might save the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. It is under threat of bleaching and climate change. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is one of the natural wonders of the world; it receives millions of visitors each year.

Many ideas have been proposed by scientists to save the Great Barrier Reef. As part of this effort, scientists from the University of Melbourne and the Australian Institute of Marine Biology have invented a ‘sun-shield’ to protect the reef.

The proposed floating ‘sun-shield,’ made of ultra-thin calcium carbonate, will protect the reef from the sun. The heat of the sun and the increasingly warm waters around the reef combine to create a bleaching effect on the coral. In 2016 alone this caused huge sections of the reef to die out.

New Shields May Save the Great Barrier Reef
Great Barrier Reef Australia
The amazing ecosystem of the Great Barrier Reef is under threat

The project is being spearheaded by the scientists who developed the country’s new polymer banknotes. It includes chemical engineers, experts in polymer science, marine ecologists and coral experts.

While the idea still requires testing, it was found to reduce the amount of light being absorbed by the coral by up to 30%. The shield is intended to be used over “high-value or high-risk” areas of the reef. It is 50,000 times thinner than a human hair; it will sit on the surface of the water above the corals to protect it from bleaching. The film itself has no harmful effects on them.

Covering over 348,000 square kilometres off the coast of Queensland, it is additionally important to save the Great Barrier Reef as it is a major source of tourist revenue.

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