Australia’s Great Barrier Reef Bleaching Worse Than First Thought
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA: Coral reefs in Australia’s Great Barrier Reef are worse than expected and the impact will accelerate unless global greenhouse gas emissions are reduced, scientists said on Monday.
The reef that appears in the World Heritage 2,300 kilometers (1,400 km) suffered its most serious bleaching in last year’s record due to global sea temperature in March and April.
Initial air and water surveys showed that 22% of shallow water was destroyed in 2016, but now they have been reduced to 29% and the reef that is currently experiencing a second year of unprecedented washing, prospects are obscure.
“We are very concerned about what this means for the Great Barrier itself and what it means for communities and industries to depend on Coral,” said Chairman of Royal Marine Corps Barrier Reef (GBRMPA) Russell Reichelt.
“The amount of coral bleached by bleaching in 2016 results from our initial estimates and, at this stage, although reports are being finalized, we are also expected to see an overall decline in coral cover by the end of 2017.”
Bleaching, which occurs when abnormal conditions such as the temperature of the corals causes sea warmer to expel small photosynthetic algae, empty them of their color, also extended to deep corals beyond the depths, divers in general, can research.
However, the mortality of these reefs has not been systematically evaluated.
The area most affected was an area north of the popular resort town of Port Douglas, where about 70% of shallow water corals died.
Cairns and Townsville, also very popular tourist destinations, are among the regions most affected by whitening event 2017, although the southern parts of the wonder of nature have escaped the worst.
Corals can recover if water temperatures and algae can colonize, but it can take ten years.
The reef is already under pressure from agricultural runoff, development and the crown of starfish thorns, with problems that have been aggravated this year by a powerful cyclone overtaking the region.
Reichelt said the storm had affected a quarter of the reefs, but a full picture of 2017 would only be available next year.
The GBRMPA held a summit last week over 70 of the world’s top marine experts to develop a plan on how best to respond to threats.
Among the options they are exploring, there was the development of coral nurseries, strategies to stimulate the killing of crown-of-thorn starfish, expand surveillance systems and identify priority sites for coral restoration.
The key to the negotiations was the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to avoid warm sea temperatures.
“The Great Barrier Reef is a large, resilient system that has previously been shown to be rebound, but the current changes undermine reef resilience,” Reichelt said.
“The Summit expressed deep concern about the need for global action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the engine of climate change.”