New study confirms mass coral bleaching is linked with unusually warm water temperatures
A multi-institutional team of scientists published their research that documents the 2016 mass bleaching reef of Australia’s west and east coasts. The study confirms that the mass bleaching is linked with unusually warm water temperatures and Climate Change. Their study was published in Nature.
Scientists investigated through extensive aerial and underwater surveys the bleaching occurrence and intensity along the Great Barrier Reef and Western Australian in 1998, 2002 and 2016. Specifically, they verified that neither the water quality nor the fishing pressure had an effect on the mass bleaching of 2016. Their results show that the unusually warm water temperatures were a result of the 2015-2016 El Niño, compounded by increasing baseline temperatures due to global warming.
Consequently, the scientists state that “immediate global action to curb future warming is essential to secure a future for coral reefs”.
Climate Change and coral bleaching
Climate Change can increase the water temperature in our seas. This increase of water temperature stresses corals, as they are very sensitive to changes in temperature. If the water temperature increase stays for many weeks, the zooxanthellae leave their hosting corals. As a result, the corals turn white because the zooxanthellae give corals their color. As climate change continues, bleaching will become more common, and the overall health of coral reefs will decline.
Who is monitoring coral bleaching in Australia?
Specifically in Australia, AIMS is implementing a Long-Term Monitoring Program with scope to document the full extent of the impacts of the bleaching event in the years to come. Furthermore, they seek to support the development of actions that will promote the recovery potential along the length of the Great Barrier Reef. You should definitely visit the AIMS page and follow their research on Australians coral reefs.