2018-07-09 03:14:55 UTC
Scientists have again sounded the alarm about Australia’s imperiled Great
Barrier Reef, saying that by the 2030s it could see devastating mass
bleachings as often as every two years unless greenhouse gas emissions are
“This would effectively sign the death certificate of one of the world’s
largest living marine structures,” said Martin Rice, acting chief executive of
the Climate Council, a publicly funded Australian research institute.
The Great Barrier Reef, the largest coral reef system on earth, was struck in
2016 and 2017 by massive die-offs of coral — caused by extreme ocean
temperatures — that erased much of its dazzling color. Scientists said that
while the reef would partly recover, it would never look the same again.
Nearly a third of the reef’s coral were killed, and the damage radically
altered its mix of coral species, scientists said.
Until late in the 20th century, large-scale coral bleaching events around the
world occurred about every 27 years, on average, the Climate Council said in a
report published Thursday. Now, it said, the rate is once every six years.
If climate change is not curtailed, that timetable will continue to speed up,
the report said. It warned that the Great Barrier Reef in particular could
experience mass coral bleaching every two years by 2034, if current trends