The report noted that 91% of the reefs surveyed along the Great Barrier Reef are affected by coral bleaching.

You are currently viewing The report noted that 91% of the reefs surveyed along the Great Barrier Reef are affected by coral bleaching.

Ninety-one percent of the reefs studied along the Great Barrier Reef in Australia coral bleaching to some extent in the summer of 2021-22, according to one government to work. Researchers say climate change It is “the biggest threat to the reef” and the warming ocean is the key factor behind the recent mass bleaching event.

“Climate change is escalating and the Reef is already experiencing the consequences,” the study said. “Unfortunately, events that cause reef degradation are becoming more frequent, leaving less time for corals to recover.”

yearly Reef Summer SnapshotLed by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, the Australian Institute of Marine Sciences and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, scientists conducted 719 reef surveys across regions. Aerial surveys revealed that 654 reefs showed coral bleaching.

Coral Whitening in Australia's Great Barrier Reef
Coral bleached during a mass bleaching event on the Great Barrier Reef outside Cairns, Australia, thought to be caused by heat stress from higher water temperatures as a result of global climate change.

Brett Monroe Garner / Getty Images

The central region, including reefs from Cape Tribulation to the Whitsundays, saw some of the most severe bleaching on both coastal and offshore reefs, the study said. The southern region reported “highly variable” bleaching, with some shallow-water coral communities reporting no bleaching, while others exhibiting “large to severe community bleaching.” And in the northern region, shallow water corals also ranged from minor to severe.

mass bleaching event across Great Barrier Reef It was the fourth to occur in seven years, according to the report. It was also the first event to occur under the climate model La Niña, which brought colder water to the ocean.

That said, the above-average water temperatures led to mass bleaching, the researchers said.

In December — Australia’s summer — the Great Barrier Reef’s water temperatures exceeded historic maximums often seen during the hottest summer months, scientists said. Throughout the summer until early April of this year, ocean temperatures continued to climb and three specific heat waves placed thermal stress on the reefs.

Other stresses on coral reefs include cyclones and storms, flood plumes and the crown of thorns starfish — a native predator for coral, the study notes.

The researchers noted that the bleached coral, despite being under stress, is still alive and has the potential to heal. Highly bleached corals have higher mortality rates, while low or moderately bleached corals are more likely to recover.

Campaign manager for the Marine Conservation Society of Australia, Dr. Lissa Schindler described the report’s findings as “devastating.”

“While bleaching is becoming more and more frequent, this is not normal and we should not accept that things are the way they are,” he said. expression Wednesday. “We need to break the new norms that are destroying our reef.”