by Staff Writers
Paris (AFP) March 15, 2017
Australia's Great Barrier Reef may never recover from last year's warming-driven coral bleaching, said a study Wednesday that called for urgent action in the face of ineffective conservation efforts.
Record-high temperatures in 2015 and 2016 drove an unprecedented bleaching episode, which occurs when stressed corals expel the algae that live in their tissue and provide them with food.
Bleached coral is more susceptible to disease, and without sufficient time to recover -- which can take one decade or several depending on the species -- it can die.
For the new study, an international team examined the impact of three major bleaching events -- in 1998, 2002 and 2016 -- over the reef's entire 2,300-kilometre (1,400-mile) length.
In 2016, they found, the proportion of constituent reefs experiencing extreme bleaching was over four times higher than in the two previous episodes.
Only nine percent escaped bleaching altogether, compared with more than 40 percent in 2002 and 1998.
"The chances of the northern Great Barrier Reef returning to its pre-bleaching assemblage structure are slim given the scale of damage that occurred in 2016 and the likelihood of a fourth bleaching event occurring within the next decade or two as global temperatures continue to rise," the team wrote.
Earlier this month, researchers warned that the reef was already experiencing an unprecedented second straight year of bleaching.
Local reef protection "affords little or no resistance" to extreme heat, the researchers wrote in the journal Nature.
Current endeavours focus on better water quality and fisheries management, but "even the most highly protected reefs and near-pristine areas are highly susceptible to severe heat stress," they said.
The findings have important implications for coral reef conservation efforts.
"Bolstering resilience will become more challenging and less effective in coming decades because local interventions have had no discernible effect on resistance of corals to extreme heat stress," the study said.
The only solution, the researchers argued, is "urgent and rapid action" to limit global warming that is expected to further increase water temperatures and coral die-offs.
The world's nations agreed in Paris in 2015 to limit average warming to two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) over pre-industrial levels, by curbing fossil fuel burning.
Cape Cod MA (UPI) Mar 13, 2017
Researchers have determined that red tides are not random, but instead have patterns that can be predicted in order to alert officials to the dangers. The Scripps Institution of Oceanography and University of California San Diego scientist George Sugihara and his colleagues developed a new technique that explains what causes red tides to form in coastal areas seemingly out of nowhere. / ... read more
Water News - Science, Technology and Politics
|The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2017 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. All articles labeled "by Staff Writers" include reports supplied to Space Media Network by industry news wires, PR agencies, corporate press officers and the like. Such articles are individually curated and edited by Space Media Network staff on the basis of the report's information value to our industry and professional readership. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement|