Australia's Great Barrier Reef suffers coral bleaching again

Rodiano Bonacci
Marzo 27, 2020

The Australian agency detected "very widespread bleaching", referring to the phenomenon when stressors cause coral to expel algae, its main food source, and turn white, putting them at risk of death.

Hughes said the first four days of aerial surveys last week covered nearly 500 reefs from the Torres Strait to Cairns.

Dr Scott Heron of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies compared this years' event to 2016 and 2017, saying the team are seeing bleaching further south than ever before. "Climate change is making the extreme events that drive those impacts both more severe and more frequent, so the damage in an event is worse".

Hughes said that extensive bleaching at levels "comparable to 2017" had been found in surveys this week in the central parts of the reef, when it is estimated that around 22 percent of shallow water coral across the 2300 square kilometers of the reef had died.

Heat stress is causing the Great Barrier Reef to endure its third mass bleaching event in five years, scientists said Thursday, another sign underscoring the urgent need to tackle the climate crisis.

That conditions exacerbated a years-long drought in much of eastern Australia, contributing to the summer's devastating wildfires that burnt out an area nearly the size of England.

The world-renowned coral reef located at the Australia's northeastern coast.

"The inshore section between Cairns and Townsville is certainly severely bleached".

The government adopted the program, which includes improving water quality among a host of other measures, to prevent the Great Barrier Reef from being put on the World Heritage endangered list. If a coral is bleached, it doesn't mean it is dead, and if it is only a mild or moderate level of bleaching, it will often recover.

According to the agency, climate change remains the single greatest threat to the reef.

Earlier this month, David Wachenfeld, chief scientist at the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, said ocean temperatures over the next month will be crucial to how the reef recovers from heat-induced bleaching. In august, the Great Barrier reef's outlook for the first time described as "very poor".

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