This week we saw the premiere of ReefChat, the Foundation’s new web series all about the Reef and the work being done to save our irreplaceable icon for future generations. The Great Barrier Reef is suffering its third mass bleaching event in five years. In a statement to Guardian Australia, the environment minister, Sussan Ley, said: “It is deeply concerning the reef has suffered another bleaching event and our focus has to be on the ways that we can reduce the pressure on the reef and strengthen its resilience. The Australian Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) recorded its highest ever sea temperature on the Great Barrier Reef in February. We undertook extensive underwater surveys at the peak of bleaching in March and April, and again at the same sites in October and November. Its resilience is not limitless and we need the strongest possible action on climate change.”. Under the Paris climate agreement, countries agreed to deliver country-wide plans that would keep global heating well below 2C, with an aim to keep temperatures to 1.5C. “There’s really no time to lose to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and the Australian government is not pulling its weight in that regard,” Hughes said. We depend on support from users like you. “Thankfully, some of the most recognised tourism areas have been less impacted but that does not change the importance of the issue and the importance of coordinated global action on emissions reduction to reduce ocean temperatures.”, Queensland’s minister for environment and the Great Barrier Reef, Leeanne Enoch, said climate change, pollution from run-off and other threats “are testing the reef’s ability to recover from major disturbances like mass bleaching events, severe tropical cyclones and crown-of-thorns starfish.”. Scientists have so far assessed more than 800 reefs in the Great Barrier system, covering 132,800 square miles, The Guardian reported . Bleaching at Magnetic Island, inshore GBR, Feb 26th 2020. Wachenfeld said the reef’s sheer size – it comprises about 3,000 individual reefs – made it resilient, “but climate change brings a new scale of impact unlike anything we have seen before”. “The reef is, after this event, a more damaged ecosystem, but it can still recover. ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, In an oil spill’s aftermath in Peru, new voices lead an Indigenous fight for justice, Environmentalists seek to block Bahamas oil drilling bid near U.S. coast, Land inequality is worsening and fueling other social ills, report says, When invaders moved onto their land, Brazil’s Karipuna people pushed back, Widodo Ramono, the man on a mission to save Sumatran rhinos. When Terry Hughes peered through the window of a small plane gliding over the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, what he saw troubled him greatly. The Great Barrier Reef is currently experiencing the most widespread bleaching ever recorded, with 60 per cent of reefs across all three regions affected, according to a detailed survey of the system. The Great Barrier Reef has experienced five mass bleaching events – 1998, 2002, 2016, 2017 and 2020 – all caused by rising ocean temperatures driven by global heating. If you value this objective and impact-driven journalism, please consider becoming a sustaining member. ... and now it's bleached again". Apr 21, 2016 Getty Images ... 2020 Stinks, Grab a New Planner for 2021. Professor Terry Hughes, director of the Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University, spent nine days in a plane surveying 1,036 reefs from the air. Hughes said previous observations had shown that bleaching at that extent leads to “high levels of mortality” of corals. Prof Terry Hughes, director of the Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University, surveyed 1,036 reefs from a plane over nine days in late March. Marine birds follow their food--the fish. (Image: umn.edu/earthducation) Extreme bleaching in Northern Sector of Reef The government’s top Great Barrier Reef scientist says a third mass bleaching event in five years is a clear signal the marine wonder is “calling for urgent help” on climate change. “No one climate event will kill the Great Barrier Reef, but each successive event creates more damage. “The missing piece continues to be leadership and action from the federal government on climate change,” she said. The southern section of the Great Barrier Reef, which stayed mostly intact during the events of 2016 and 2017, got hit very hard this year. They found 25% were severely affected, with more than 60% of each reef’s corals bleached; an additional one-third of … You may republish Mongabay content in your publication at no cost, Alleged gov’t-linked land grabs threaten Cambodia’s Cardamom Mountains, Fueled by impunity, invasions surge in Brazil’s Indigenous lands, Chinese demand and domestic instability are wiping out Senegal’s last forests, Solomon Islands environmental defender faces life sentence for arson charge, ‘Tamper with nature, and everyone suffers’: Q&A with ecologist Enric Sala, New paper highlights spread of organized crime from global fisheries, Study: Chinese ‘dark fleets’ illegally defying sanctions by fishing in North Korean waters, Game changer? Staghorns and table corals play a pivotal role in the marine ecosystem by providing “nooks and crannies” for fish, crustaceans and other animals, Hughes said. If the trend continues, the Great Barrier Reef may not have a chance to recover. She said the Palaszczuk government had “committed to a zero net emissions target by 2050” and allocated more than $427m for reef protection and resilience between 2015 and 2022. However, it is possible for corals to heal. ReefChat: Beyond the Bleaching. ... An Australian-led research team is breathing new life into the bleached bones of the Great Barrier Reef, using a technique called "Coral IVF". “It’s not too late to turn this around with rapid action on emissions,” he said. The Great Barrier Reef is facing a critical period of heat stress over the coming weeks following the most widespread coral bleaching the natural wonder has … Our biweekly podcast delivering news & inspiration from nature’s frontline. Professor Terry Hughes surveying the Great Barrier in March 2020. Wachenfeld said: “We’re at about 1C and we have just had three marine heatwaves in five years that have all damaged the reef.”. The Great Barrier Reef can be seen from outer space – and is the world’s largest single structure made by living organisms. Half of the Great Barrier Reef has been bleached to death since 2016. “As we approach and go beyond 2C, I don’t see the tools we have today, and the tools that research and development is working on, will protect the reef. Friday 06 March 2020 15:09. Mongabay is a U.S.-based non-profit conservation and environmental science news platform. Scientists saw … Image by ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies. Hughes said there probably would not be the same level of coral death in the north and central regions in 2020 as in previous years, but this was partly because previous bleaching outbreaks had killed off the less heat-tolerant species. The reef structure is composed of and built by trillions of ultra-tiny organisms, known as coral polyps. “But business-as-usual emissions will make the the Great Barrier Reef a pretty miserable place compared to today.”. This year, the Great Barrier Reef — the world’s largest reef system, spanning more than 344,400 square kilometers (133,000 square miles) — suffered its third major bleaching event in the last five years. “Bleaching isn’t necessarily fatal, and it affects some species more than others,” Morgan Pratchett, a professional research fellow at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, said in a statement. Dr David Wachenfeld, chief scientist at the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, told Guardian Australia: “My greatest fear is that people will lose hope for the reef. Observers conducted aerial surveys of 1036 reef locations in March. Image by ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies. To put these losses in context, over the 27 years from 1985 to 2012, scientists from the Australian Institute of Marin… “None of that is a substitute for strong action on emissions,” Wachenfeld said. 9:25am Nov 20, 2020. This year, some 35 percent of the 1,036 reefs the scientists surveyed experienced moderate bleaching, while a quarter were severely bleached. “That’s a distance of more than 2,000 kilometers,” or about 1,250 miles. Aerial surveys of more than 1,000 individual reefs show severe levels of bleaching occurred in 2020 in all three sections of the reef – northern, central and southern – the first time this has happened since mass bleaching was first seen in 1998. Every day, Mongabay reporters bring you news from nature’s frontline. Previous ones took place in 2016 and 2017, with the 2016 event considered the most severe. They are clear signals the Great Barrier Reef is calling for urgent help and for us to do everything we can.”. “You can see heavily bleached coral from a couple of kilometers away because it glows in the distance.”. 'Probably the worst year in a century': Australia's environmental toll of 2019, Great Barrier Reef world heritage values damaged by climate change, government admits. While 40% of the reef remained untouched, 25% experienced severe bleaching, and 35% was moderately bleached. “It’s very confronting to see the scale of the bleaching, and to know that you’re going to lose a lot of corals on the heavily bleached reefs,” Hughes, a professor and director of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University, told Mongabay. The bleaching event on the Great Barrier Reef in 2020 is not only the most widespread, but also second most severe on record, scientists found. So do its elephants, Activists in Malaysia call on road planners to learn the lessons of history, Road-paving project threatens a wildlife-rich reserve in Indonesia’s Papua. Hughes has released maps showing severe levels of bleaching occurred in 2020 in all three sections of the reef – northern, central and southern – the first time this has happened since mass bleaching was first seen in 1998. Instead of healthy reef systems, there was mile upon mile of bleached white coral. 0 comments. The Great Barrier Reef remains under pressure from heat stress that accumulated over the 2019/20 summer, particularly in February and early March 2020, and resultant bleaching that is occurring. The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority said the damage is the result of “prolonged thermal stress” due to high ocean temperatures in February and March. Hughes said severe mass bleaching had never before hit the southern section of the reef – from Mackay south. Our EIN or tax ID is 45-3714703. … “Dealing with the climate problem is the underpinning for everything else to work.”. Banner image caption: An aerial view of bleached coral on the Great Barrier Reef, taken in March 2020. The Great Barrier Reef is roughly the size of Japan or half ... a section that had never bleached before. Severe bleaching can kill corals. Without hope there’s no action. While some color and vitality can return within a few weeks, it can take a decade or longer for corals to fully recover, Hughes said. The dieback of corals due to bleaching in just 8-9 months is the largest loss ever recorded for the Great Barrier Reef. The Great Barrier Reef just experienced its third mass bleaching event in five years and, this time, nearly 25 percent of The Great Barrier Reef is severely bleached. One quarter of the Great Barrier Reef suffered severe bleaching this summer in the most widespread outbreak ever witnessed, according to analysis of aerial surveys of … A coral bleaching map showing the worst affected areas in 2020 highlighted in red. While 40% of the reef remained untouched, 25% experienced severe bleaching, and 35% was moderately bleached. The #GreatBarrierReef has experienced the third mass coral bleaching event in five years, explains @ProfTerryHughes@jcu @CoralCoE @MorganPratchett pic.twitter.com/nAQOQWcgq5. Underwater at the Great Barrier Reef showing a bleached coral. 2. That area had high numbers of heat-sensitive corals that “light up like a Christmas tree” when viewed from the air. Dr Mark Eakin, coordinator of Coral Reef Watch at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said there was a risk that mass bleaching seen along the length of the Great Barrier Reef in 2020 could mark the start of another global-scale bleaching event. He told Guardian Australia: “Three mass bleaching events in five years is showing us the enormous scale at which climate change can operate. Measures to improve the resilience of the reef include improving water quality, controlling outbreaks of coral-eating starfish, and research and development to improve the heat tolerance of corals. This isn't the first mass bleaching event the Great Barrier Reef has suffered through, but the researchers say it's by far the most extreme.. The northern sector of the reef was hardest-hit, with 81% ruled Severely Bleached. A bleaching map showing the worst affected areas in 2016-17. In the northern third of the Great Barrier Reef, we recorded an average (median) loss of 67% of coral cover on a large sample of 60 reefs. One quarter of the Great Barrier Reef suffered severe bleaching this summer in the most widespread outbreak ever witnessed, according to analysis of aerial surveys of more than 1,000 individual reefs released on Tuesday. This is a call to action.”. Australian scientists reported in April that "... only 7% of the coral reefs across the Great Barrier Reef have completely avoided bleaching. " Some 25% of the reefs were severely bleached – meaning that more than 60% of the corals on each reef had bleached. 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The Great Barrier Reef was showing only modest recovery in coral cover before it was hammered by its third mass bleaching event in five ... 2020 — 1.00am. Corals can recover from mild bleaching, but scientists say those corals are more susceptible to disease. It needs more help from us and it needs it urgently. Rescuing the Great Barrier Reef: how much can be saved, and how can we do it? The Great Barrier Reef's third mass bleaching event in five years is also its most widespread. The globe has already warmed by about 1C above pre-industrial levels, caused primarily by rising levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere from burning fossil fuels. hbspt.cta.load(5981609, '8f4c6e6c-f5b2-40c0-926e-1af2470257f3', {}); Mongabay is a reader-supported conservation and environmental science news service. “That’s the window we have to aim for,” Wachenfeld said. For the first time, severe bleaching has struck all three regions of the Great Barrier Reef – the northern, central and now large parts of the southern sectors. The marine park authority also had an observer on the flights. Since these corals are more vulnerable species, it might not be possible for them to fully recover, especially if temperatures continue to rise. The north was the worst affected region in 2016, followed by the centre in 2017. “We have coastal bleaching this year all the way along the Great Barrier Reef — from the Torres Straits in the north to the southern boundary of the marine park near Bundaberg,” Hughes said. “People need to see these [bleaching] events not as depressing bits of news that adds to other depressing bits of news. Dryness? Warming water temperatures, induced by climate change, are to blame for this year’s bleaching. Hot news on the 2016, 2017, and 2020 coral bleaching events: 7 April 2020: Climate change triggers Great Barrier Reef bleaching 4 April 2019: Global warming disrupts recovery of coral reefs 11 Dec 2018: A glimmer of hope for the world’s coral reefs 26 Oct 2018: Fish give up the fight after coral bleaching 05 Sept 2018: Coral bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef not limited to shallow depths “Bleaching is the most dramatic on a reef that hasn’t bleached for a decade or longer because there are a lot of corals, and many are the heat-sensitive staghorns and table corals,” Hughes said. Scientists Are Devastated by How Much of the Great Barrier Reef Has Been Bleached "We wept." In February the reef was subjected to its hottest sea surface temperatures since records began in 1900. A map showing which areas were severely bleached, and which remained untouched. But it's not all bad news.For starters, not all the reefs are equally badly damaged - just over half are 'severely bleached', which means they have bleaching of … “The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority has been monitoring the situation closely and highlighting the concerns over temperatures. The 2020 bleaching was second only to 2016 for severity, Hughes said. “A pale or lightly bleached coral typically regains its colour within a few weeks or months and survives.”. Reef may recover. Some scientists fear that rising levels of heat being taken up by the ocean have pushed tropical reefs to a tipping point at which many locations bleach almost annually. “The world is heading for 3C of warming – we will not be able to protect coral reefs under those circumstances. However, this year’s bleaching is proving to be the most extensive, Hughes said. The southern portion of the Great Barrier Reef, which largely escaped the major coral bleaching events of 2016 and 2017, is unlikely to be spared this time. Government’s chief marine scientist says he fears people will lose hope for the future of the reef but it is a clear signal for action, Last modified on Tue 7 Apr 2020 06.19 BST. By Tess Koman. Roughly 30 percent of the corals on the Great Barrier Reef died after the 2016 bleaching, which was the worst of five separate bleaching events since 1998. He found that 25 percent of the overall reef was severely bleached. Antarctic ice melt related to tropical weather shifts: Study, Tropical forests can take the heat, study finds. During the prolonged El Niño of 2016-17, higher temperatures caused mass bleaching that damaged portions of the northern and central regions of the Great Barrier Reef. 28 April 2020. DONATE HERE. Ridd’s fellow reef scientists contended at the time that as much as 30% to 95% of the reef’s corals died. The Great Barrier Reef is currently experiencing the most widespread bleaching ever recorded, with 60 per cent of reefs across all three regions affected, according to a detailed survey of the system. The southern section of the Great Barrier Reef, which stayed mostly intact during the events of 2016 and 2017, got hit very hard this year. This year, the Great Barrier Reef — the world’s largest reef system, spanning more than 344,400 square kilometers (133,000 square miles) — suffered its third major bleaching event in the last five years. The underpinning for everything else to work. ” the overall Reef was hardest-hit, the. With some quite unusual patterns in the bleaching at present Mongabay is U.S.-based. Coral typically regains its colour within a few weeks or months and survives. ” there was upon. Hardest-Hit, with some quite unusual patterns in the bleaching at that extent leads to “ levels. 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