A new study examining the effects of climate change on the Great Barrier Reef shows corals could start dissolving into the ocean within 100 years if nothing is done.
The University of Queensland research is measuring the effects of various climate change scenarios on carefully designed mini coral reef ecosystems built inside tubs.
The research is being conducted on Heron Island, off the coast of Gladstone in central Queensland.
Work on the project is expected to continue until September.
Worse than expected
Lead researcher Sophie Dove says if greenhouse gas emissions are not curbed the reef could be put under serious threat.
"Under the business-as-usual CO2 scenario, we found that the reefs were actually decalcifying," she said.
"It's quite alarming - there is more damage than I would have thought when I started out.
"I would have thought that more things would survive and it would look a lot healthier than it does."
She says coral skeletons have started dissolving in the tub representing what might happen if nothing is done about greenhouse emissions.
"That would mean that if a cyclone were to hit or something like that there would be no ability to rebuild the reef," she said.
© ABC 2013
20:55 EST Landholders are reporting hundreds of millimetres of rainfall across the coastal strip in northern New South Wales.