Coral reefs are one of the most vibrant marine ecosystems on Earth. A quarter to a third of all submarine species depend on them. However, global warming caused by human activity is disrupting their functioning. Rising water temperatures mean that corals are increasingly faced with stressful situations that threaten their existence.
These include the so-called coral bleaching, which scientists have long warned against. That this is a widespread problem is evidenced by reports from an Australian government agency focusing on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. The diary pointed to her The Guardian.
According to research published on Tuesday, up to 91% of the monitored Great Barrier Reef reefs underwent a bleaching process in 2022 due to high temperatures. These findings confirm earlier news that the reef has just experienced the sixth coral bleaching in recorded history. Four of them have occurred in the last six years.
“Research confirms that there has been mass bleaching, coral bleaching has been observed on multiple reefs in all regions,” said a commentary from the Great Barrier Reef Underwater Park Authority’s report. “This is the fourth process of mass bleaching since 2016 and the sixth that the Great Barrier Reef has experienced since 1998.”
Researchers at the Australian Government Agency examined 719 reefs, which form a 2.3-kilometer-long reef system, during the Australian summer season at the turn of 2021 and 2022. 654 of them found whitening. At the same time, corals were hit the hardest in areas that are frequented by tourists.
Server CNN points out that bleaching occurs when the water temperature is noticeably higher than usual. The researchers were therefore surprised to find that the bleaching occurred during the La Niña phenomenon, which is the colder counterpart of the phenomenon. The child and usually leads to a reduction in ocean warming.
David Wachenfeld, who heads the Great Barrier Reef Undersea Park Authority, said this was the first time ever. “As already mentioned, the climate is changing and the planet and the reef are about 1.5 degrees Celsius warmer than 150 years ago,” Wachenfeld told The Guardian. “Unexpected events can be expected now. Nothing can surprise me anymore, “he added.
The water temperature around the Great Barrier Reef began to rise in December 2021 and quickly exceeded the “historical highs” for the summer months. By April 2022, three heat waves had hit the area, increasing the “thermal load” in the central and northern parts of the cliff.
As a result, the corals began to lose food, eventually dying and their skeletons turning white. “Even the toughest corals take almost ten years to recover,” said Jodie Rummer of James Cook University.
The most pressing problem, therefore, is that the bleaching processes are recurring faster and faster today and the corals do not have time for the necessary recovery. “We are really losing the opportunity for renewal. There is repeated bleaching, repeated heat waves. And corals just don’t adapt to the new conditions, “he explains CNN Rummer.
Therefore, scientists are calling for the ruling elites to take immediate action to alleviate the climate crisis. According to Lissa Schindler of the Australian Marine Conservation Society, the report is further evidence that reducing fossil fuel emissions should be a priority for the Australian Government.
“This problem cannot be solved by big shiny financial donation reports. The scientific evidence is clear: in order to save the world’s reefs from total destruction, we must significantly reduce emissions during the 1920s, ”concludes Simon Bradshaw, who works for the Australian Climate Council.