news 6 days ago

Great Barrier Reef is getting bleached at an unprecedented level due to warmer ocean temperatures

New York Daily News — Lauren Theisen New York Daily News

March 24--The gorgeous Great Barrier Reef off the coast of Australia is turning whiter and whiter at a pace that’s never been seen before, as warmer ocean temperatures heat the corals and cause bleaching.

“This has never happened before,” Mark Eakin, coordinator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Coral Reef Watch program, told NBC News. “We’re in completely uncharted territory.”

This is the third major bleaching event to happen in the past four years, after a 14-year gap between bleachings in 2002 and 2016. The bleaching turns the corals a pale shade of white and makes them more susceptible to disease, and at the rate it’s currently happening, they don’t have enough time to recover and grow back before the next round. The last two bleaching events, combined, killed nearly half of the reef’s corals.

Experts are worried about the widespread nature of this year’s bleaching, and they’re alarmed at how much more easily these events happen than they used to, as climate change warms the planet’s oceans.

“We just need a hot summer," Eakin said. “And the summers are getting hotter and hotter because of global warming. That is astounding in itself.”


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