Most Great Barrier Reef coral studied this year was bleached

Most Great Barrier Reef coral studied this year was bleached

CANBERRA, Australia — More than 90% of Great Barrier Reef coral surveyed this year was bleached in the fourth such mass event in seven years in the world’s largest coral reef ecosystem, Australian government scientists said.

Bleaching is caused by global warming, but this is the reef’s first bleaching event during a La Nina weather pattern, which is associated with cooler Pacific Ocean temperatures, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Authority said in its an annual report released late Tuesday that found 91% of the areas surveyed were affected.

Bleaching in 2016, 2017 and 2020 damaged two-thirds of the coral in the famed reef off Australia’s eastern coast.

Coral is a result of heat stress and most corals will be able to recover, according to David Wachenfeld chief scientist, the authority that manages the ecosystem.

“The early indications are that the mortality won’t be very high,” Wachenfeld told Australian Broadcasting Corp. on Wednesday.

” We hope that most coral bleached will recover. This will be a more similar event to 2020, when there was mass bleaching but low mortality.

The bleaching events in 2016 and 2017 led to “quite high levels of coral mortality,” Wachenfeld said.

The hottest December since 1900. was last December. According to the report, a “marine heatwave”, had begun in February.

A United Nations team visited the reef to determine if the World Heritage listing of the reef should be downgraded because of the effects climate change has had on it.

In July last year, Australia garnered enough international support to defer an attempt by UNESCO, the United Nations’ cultural organization, to downgrade the reef’s World Heritage status to “in danger” because of damage caused by climate change.

But the question will be back on the World Heritage Committee’s agenda at its annual meeting next month.

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