Great Barrier Reef suffers ‘worrying’ and ‘severe’ bleaching

Sydney, Australia, Mar. 18 (EFE).- The Great Barrier Reef, in northeastern Australia, is suffering a “worrying” and “severe” coral bleaching, the sixth since 1998, which puts the rich ecosystem at risk, according to a Friday report.

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority confirmed “widespread” coral bleaching in “multiple” regions of the world’s largest coral system, covering an area of ​​348,000 square kilometers.

The authority’s aerial surveys show “severe” bleaching has occurred in the central region and parts of the northernmost Great Barrier Reef due to heat stress during the austral summer.

“In areas of the central Great Barrier Reef where heat stress has been worst this summer, we’re starting to see some coral mortality,” the authority’s chief scientist David Wachenfeld said on social media.

The report coincides with a 10-day visit from Monday of a UNESCO delegation to assess the condition of the World Heritage Site, which in 2021 was close to being downgraded to Heritage in Danger.

The marine authority said there has recently been a rise in the temperature of the waters of the Great Barrier Reef, which ranges between 0.5 C and 2 C above the average with peaks of up to 4 degrees in northern areas, causing “stress” on corals and leading to their deaths.

The Great Barrier Reef has previously recorded significant bleaching in 1998, 2002, 2016, 2017 and 2020.

Lissa Schidler, the Australian Marine Conservation Society’s campaign manager,said in a statement that “the most worrying thing is that this massive bleaching happens during the La Nina weather event, characterized by rain and fog on the east coast of Australia and generally helps cool the waters.”

The World Wildlife Fund published Friday an independent report on the climate crisis saying that between 2020 and 2050 – when Canberra intends to achieve neutral emissions – Australia will have a cumulative domestic emission of polluting gasses of 9,600 million tons .

It said for temperatures to rise no more than 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels – the figure set by the Paris Agreement – Australian domestic emissions must total 4 billion tonnes.

“The science is clear: the outlook for coral reefs around the world is poor at 1.5 C (above the current average), and their fate is all but sealed (if they rise) at 2 C,” said Zebedee Nicholls, researcher at the University of Melbourne, in the statement. EFE


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