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Coral reefs are as good as concrete defenses at protecting tropical coastal cities from rising seas but are far cheaper, scientists said in a study published Tuesday.The seaward edge of the reef, called the crest, is by itself responsible for dissipating 86 percent of the energy.Nearly two-thirds of all the remaining energy is then buffered by the reef flat, the shallow part of the reef that extends outward from the shore. Overall, this natural shield leads to a reduction in wave height of 64 percent on average, comparable to a reduction of 30-70 percent achieved by a system of detached breakwaters, according to the study. Around 100 million people living close to the sea at altitudes of less than 10 meters could benefit from risk reduction by reefs, according to the study.
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