Great Barrier Reef suffers third mass coral bleaching event in five years

Great Barrier Reef suffers third mass coral bleaching event in five years

SOURCE: The Guardian DATE: March 25, 2020 SNIP: The Great Barrier Reef has experienced a third mass coral bleaching event in five years, according to the scientist carrying out aerial surveys over hundreds of individual reefs. With three days of a nine-day survey to go, Prof Terry Hughes told Guardian Australia: “We know this is a mass bleaching event and it’s a severe one.” It follows the worst outbreaks of mass bleaching on record killing about half the shallow water corals on the world’s biggest reef system in 2016 and 2017. Hughes said the first four days of aerial surveys last week covered almost 500 reefs from the Torres Strait to Cairns. They revealed a mixed picture, with some severe bleaching on reefs closer to shore, but outer “ribbon reefs” in the far north escaping damage. He said surveys this week in the central parts of the reef had found extensive bleaching at levels “comparable to 2017”, when it is estimated about 22% of shallow water coral along the reef’s 2300km died. Hughes said about 80 reefs between Tully and Townsville were badly bleached. Both inner and outer reefs were hit. “We could see that some of those corals were big enough that they must have survived the 2017 bleaching and now they re-bleached,” he...
Gulf Coast Coral Likely To Face Widespread Destruction By The End Of The Century

Gulf Coast Coral Likely To Face Widespread Destruction By The End Of The Century

SOURCE: Kera News DATE: December 26, 2019 SNIP: Without a significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, coral reefs throughout the Gulf of Mexico are likely to face widespread bleaching and collapse by the end of the century, according to a new report from several research universities. Researchers from Rice University, the University of Texas at Austin and Louisiana State University used climate models to project future changes in the Gulf’s waters, from Texas to Florida. Specifically, they looked at factors that stress coral reefs, such as temperature rise and acidification. “All of the trends are negative in that we find that the oceans are warming; the ocean is becoming more acidic. Everything that is conducive to coral health is being degraded rapidly,” said Sylvia Dee, an assistant professor of Earth, environmental and planetary sciences at Rice. “What we can say with certainty is that by the end of the 21st century it is highly likely, and almost certain, that many of the coral reef communities in the Gulf of Mexico will be undergoing heating conditions and acidification conditions that are likely to destroy them.” The Gulf Coast is home to numerous coral reef systems, many of which are inside protected areas such as Florida’s John Pennekamp state park and the Flower Banks National Marine Sanctuary off the coast of Galveston. The reefs support fisheries, help protect coastlines and contribute to tourism, Dee said. The researchers also looked at other factors contributing to poor coral health, such as runoff pollution, coral mining and over-fishing. “Those are problems that could be eradicated now, those things could be stopped immediately,” she...
Coral die-off predicted as marine heat wave engulfs Hawaii

Coral die-off predicted as marine heat wave engulfs Hawaii

SOURCE: AP DATE: September 23, 2019 SNIP: At the edge of an ancient lava flow where jagged black rocks meet the Pacific, small off-the-grid homes overlook the calm blue waters of Papa Bay on Hawaii’s Big Island—no tourists or hotels in sight. Here, one of the islands’ most abundant and vibrant coral reefs thrives just below the surface. Yet even this remote shoreline far from the impacts of chemical sunscreen, trampling feet and industrial wastewater is showing early signs of what’s expected to be a catastrophic season for coral in Hawaii. Just four years after a major marine heat wave killed nearly half of this coastline’s coral, federal researchers are predicting another round of hot water will cause some of the worst coral bleaching the region has ever experienced. Researchers using high-tech equipment to monitor Hawaii’s reefs are seeing early signs of bleaching in Papa Bay and elsewhere caused by a marine heat wave that has sent temperatures soaring to record highs for months. June, July and parts of August all experienced the hottest ocean temperatures ever recorded around the Hawaiian Islands. Forecasters expect high temperatures in the north Pacific will continue to pump heat into Hawaii’s waters well into October. “Temperatures have been warm for quite a long time,” Jamison Gove, an oceanographer with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said. “It’s not just how hot it is. It’s how long those ocean temperatures stay warm. This is widespread, 100% bleaching of most corals.” And many of those corals are still recovering from the 2015 bleaching event, meaning they are more susceptible to thermal...
Lord Howe Island coral bleaching ‘most severe we’ve ever seen’, scientists say

Lord Howe Island coral bleaching ‘most severe we’ve ever seen’, scientists say

SOURCE: The Guardian DATE: April 1, 2019 SNIP: Researchers have documented what they are describing as the most severe coral bleaching to hit the world’s southern-most reef at Lord Howe Island. Scientists from Newcastle University, James Cook University and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have spent the past two weeks surveying corals around the island in the far south Pacific Ocean after they were alerted to bleaching in isolated areas. Bill Leggat, a coral biologist at Newcastle University, said the worst of the bleaching was in shallow water closer to the shoreline. “It’s quite variable but where it’s severe it is actually quite severe,” he said. “Some of the sites are looking at 80-90% bleaching going very close inshore.” The bleaching has occurred over the past summer, with March the peak month of the year for coral bleaching due to warmer ocean temperatures. While much of Australia’s focus on coral bleaching has been centred on the Great Barrier Reef, it is a worldwide occurrence due to climate change. “We’re starting to see beaching in sites where wouldn’t have previously expected to see...
Great Barrier Reef forecast warns entire system at risk of bleaching and coral death this summer

Great Barrier Reef forecast warns entire system at risk of bleaching and coral death this summer

SOURCE: The Guardian DATE: October 25, 2018 SNIP: Mass bleaching and coral death could be likely along the entire Great Barrier Reef this summer, according to a long-range forecast that coral experts say is “a wake-up call” for the Australian government. The US National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (Noaa) has forecast a 60% chance that the entire Great Barrier Reef will reach alert level one, which signals extreme heat stress and bleaching are likely. The forecast period covers November 2018 to February 2019 and the risk extends to the southern Great Barrier Reef, which escaped the mass mortality seen in the middle and northern parts of the reef in 2016 and 2017. “This is really the first warning bells going off that we are heading for an extraordinarily warm summer and there’s a very good chance that we’ll lose parts of the reef that we didn’t lose in the past couple of years,” said marine biologist Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, the director of the Global Change Institute at the University of Queensland. “These are not good predictions and this is a wake-up call.” Hoegh-Guldberg said it was particularly worrying that the long-range forecasts were already showing high chances of bleaching and mortality before March, which is the main month of the year for bleaching...