Bleaching Threats to The Great Barrier Reef

Ocean acidification, a hidden side effect of the significant rise of CO2 emissions, is one of the devastating results of anthropogenic global warmingAlmost half of all carbon dioxide released by burning fossil fuels, solid waste and wood products dissolves into the ocean. For the past 200 years, the oceans have absorbed approximately 525 billion tons of the human-made CO2. This CO2 makes the oceans more acidic, which in turn poses a variety of risks to coral reef ecosystems. The coral bleaching is one of them. Above-average sea water temperatures driven by global warming are a leading cause for coral bleaching worldwide.

The Great Barrier Reef is the world’s largest coral reef system. Made up of 3000 individual reef systems, it is the only living organism that can be seen from outer space.

Scientists have recorded severe coral bleaching of Australia’s spectacular Great Barrier Reef for the second time in just 12 months. Last year, bleaching was most severe in the northern third of reef, while this year the middle third of reef had seen the most intense bleaching. It is the fourth mass coral bleaching across large parts of the Great Barrier Reef – in 1998, 2002, 2016 and now in 2017.

The combined impact of this back-to-back bleaching stretches for 1,500 km (900 miles), leaving only the southern third unscathed,” says Professor Terry Hughes, director of the Australian Research Council’s (ARC) Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, who undertook the surveys in both 2016 and 2017.

The Great Barrier Reef Coral Bleaching. Photo: Unsplash/ Yanguang Lan

The bleached coral does not mean the coral is dead, it can recover, but only if cooler water temperatures return. Since the adoption of the Paris Agreement in 2015, the world’s nations manage to prevent global temperatures rising by more than the crucial 2 degrees Celsius. But that will require a high level of ambition, as even if all the national pledges made to the UN are implemented, the amount of carbon emissions will still rise over the next 15 years. The safe levels of warming for coral reefs have already passed, now the scientists suggest the global warming need to be limited to 1.5 degrees Celsius to allow a survival for coral reefs.

The Great Barrier Reef is not the only one that has experienced mass coral bleaching events, now similar damages can be found on other reefs around the world, including the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean.

And there is more bad news, if nothing will be done in the nearest future, the ocean acidification will impact not only coral reefs, but will affect all marine ecosystem. This problem is still preventable, we have technologies and resources we need, now we just need to make the commitment.

6 replies
  1. couple bracelets
    couple bracelets says:

    Very nice post. I just stumbled upon your weblog and wanted to say that I’ve really enjoyed surfing around your blog posts. In any case I will be subscribing to your feed and I hope you write again very soon!

  2. mink lashes
    mink lashes says:

    Usually I do not read article on blogs, however I wish to say that this write-up very forced me to try and do so! Your writing taste has been amazed me. Thank you, very great article.


Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *