Offbeat Great Barrier Reef could be hit with coral bleaching 'disaster' in weeks as temperatures rise

16:47  20 february  2020
16:47  20 february  2020 Source:   abc.net.au

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The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority has raised its bleaching warning to the highest alert and will begin to put in place limits on water pollution Bleached coral reefs can recover — but only if they're given a chance. In theory, coral reefs can recover from a severe bleaching event, says Mark

Coral bleaching is a global crisis, caused by increased ocean temperatures driven by carbon Climate change is the biggest threat to our Great Barrier Reef . The Reef needs our help while If we continue burning fossil fuels at our current rate then severe bleaching events are likely to hit reefs

a large pool of water: Researchers have been monitoring bleaching events on the Great Barrier Reef since the 1980s. (Supplied: ARC Centre of Excellence) © Provided by ABC NEWS Researchers have been monitoring bleaching events on the Great Barrier Reef since the 1980s. (Supplied: ARC Centre of Excellence)

Fears have been raised over a potential coral bleaching "disaster" on the Great Barrier Reef in coming weeks, with sea surface temperatures already two degrees above average in many parts of the marine park.

Climate Council professor Lesley Hughes said there were reports of bleaching that had already occurred at three sites off Cape York, in Far North Queensland.

"If those temperatures are maintained there is definitely a heightened risk of bleaching over the next few weeks with a potential peak in the second week of March," she said.

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Image caption The Great Barrier Reef is the world's largest living structure and can be seen from space. Evidence that Australia's Great Barrier Reef is Climate change and the effects of El Nino are being blamed for the rise in sea temperatures that causes coral bleaching . "What we ' re seeing now

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"It's very, very concerning."

Reef on high alert

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has placed the Great Barrier Reef on Alert Level 1 for the next seven days, meaning significant bleaching is likely.

Professor Hughes said bleaching could have devastating consequences for the World Heritage-listed marine park.

The summers of 2016 and 2017 saw back-to-back mass bleaching, which wiped out half of all shallow-water coral on the Great Barrier Reef.

"If we get bleaching in the northern parts again this year certainly there won't have been enough time for those reefs that were previously bleached a couple of years ago won't have had time to recover," Ms Hughes said.

"It's sort of insult, upon insult, upon insult to this ecosystem."

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The latest coral bleaching , a phenomenon that can result in coral dying off, is part of a larger event that has The news comes after Australian government experts and researchers from the Australian Institute of Marine Science surveyed the Great Barrier Reef between Townsville and Cairns last week .

Two-thirds of Great Barrier Reef hit by back-to-back mass coral bleaching . Back-to-back severe bleaching events have affected two-thirds of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef , new aerial surveys have found. Australia's politicians have betrayed the Great Barrier Reef and only the people can save it | David Mass bleaching – a phenomenon caused by global warming-induced rises to sea surface

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The Australian Marine Conservation Society said another bleaching event was "the last thing" the reef and its coastal communities needed.

"Unfortunately we are a whisker away from bleaching disaster yet again because of global warming driven marine heatwaves," campaigner Shani Tager said.

"As underwater heatwaves threaten once again to cook our corals, our politicians must move beyond half-baked plans to tackle global warming."

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority has been contacted for comment.

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