The American Association for the Advancement of Science published a study in the scientific journal Science Advances on February 28 that shows that coral reefs influence the strength and height of waves reaching the coast.
According to this study, a coral reef full of cavities and crevices is the best protection for coastal areas from large waves. However, the death of the coral during this century will lower these defenses and allow the waves that reach the coast to be twice as high by 2100.
The same study indicates that coral dies due to ocean warming, leaving the coast more exposed; and at the same time, sea level also rises due to climate change. In this way and at this speed, the resistant coral will not grow fast enough to balance the ecosystem again and act as an effective barrier.
Several simulations have been carried out in certain areas of the globe, for example, French Polynesia with Morea and Tahiti, where waves can break spectacularly as in Teahupoo, precisely thanks to the presence of underwater reefs. It is in these areas, according to the study, that waves could be up to 2.4 times larger than the current size when they reach the coast; and research warns that this is a simulation extrapolated to other similar regions of the world.