Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?

CleanTechnica
The Great Barrier Reef coral bleaching event that's been occurring since the start of summer in the Southern Hemisphere has now spread to cover more than 900 miles of reef, according to researchers.

Climate Change

Great Barrier Reef Coral Bleaching In 2017 Covers 900 Miles Of Reef

The Great Barrier Reef coral bleaching event that’s been occurring since the start of summer in the Southern Hemisphere has now spread to cover more than 900 miles of reef, according to researchers.

The Great Barrier Reef coral bleaching event that’s been occurring since the start of summer in the Southern Hemisphere has now spread to cover more than 900 miles of reef, according to researchers.

As we reported previously, this is the second year in a row that the Great Barrier Reef has experienced an extreme coral bleaching event — which is unprecedented, when it comes to the time period that humans have been scientifically monitoring the reef.

The culprit? The uncharacteristically high water temperatures in the region this summer (this summer in the Southern Hemisphere, that is). This is particularly notable since we are not technically in an El Niño anymore … yet temperatures are still at record or near-record highs in many places.

(As a note here to those who have complained about me referring to the 2016–2017 coral bleaching event as being the “2017” bleaching event, and the 2015–2016 bleaching event as being the “2016” bleaching event: take it up with the researchers involved, who are mostly based in the Southern Hemisphere and well aware of the “reversed” seasons but still use the terms above…)

“The bleaching is caused by record-breaking temperatures driven by global warming,” stated Terry Hughes, a director of the ARC Center of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies.

Given that this bleaching event follows only one year after an earlier one, the effects are particularly profound, as the surviving corals were already highly stressed and working to rebuild.

“It takes at least a decade for a full recovery of even the fastest growing corals, so mass bleaching events 12 months apart offers zero prospect of recovery for reefs that were damaged in 2016,” noted James Kerry, a fellow scientist at the ARC Center of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies.

That recovery is uncertain, though, for obvious reasons.

“This is part of the global coral bleaching event that started in June 2014 and hasn’t gone away,” as Mark Eakin, the coordinator at Coral Reef Watch, put it.

That’s why we jumped the gun a while back and published an “obituary” for the Great Barrier Reef — while there may be isolated portions of the reef that can survive (thanks to cold-water upwellings, local circulation patterns, etc.), the reef as a whole is very likely now in a death spiral.

Climate Central provides some context: “The planet’s reefs have been forced to cope with an oceanic heat wave since then that’s caused coral bleaching in every ocean basin. It’s only the third recorded instance of global coral bleaching, with the other two coming in 1998 and 2010, but it’s easily the longest running. The Coral Reef Watch forecast is for elevated risk of coral bleaching to continue until at least July around the world, adding further stress to coral. … The world has warmed roughly 1.8°F (1°C) since humans began emitting carbon pollution. Scientists project that coral will likely go extinct across much of the planet if the world reaches the 2.7°F (1.5°C) threshold.”

That’s a threshold that’s very nearly impossible to avoid speeding through and past at this point — to do so would require that the world’s agricultural, industrial, transportation/shipping, and cultural systems be fundamentally changed overnight. To do so would require that people completely give up a way of living that they were often born into, and think that they have a “right” to.

While some will probably bring up carbon capture technologies here as a potential “solution,” I’ll note that I’ve seen nothing that makes me think such technologies could be used effectively on a large scale in an economical way. Maybe carbon capture tech will end up being used on a large scale, but doing so won’t be cheap, and will bring with it its own economic, social, and geopolitical problems.

 
 
Appreciate CleanTechnica’s originality? Consider becoming a CleanTechnica Member, Supporter, Technician, or Ambassador — or a patron on Patreon.
 
Have a tip for CleanTechnica, want to advertise, or want to suggest a guest for our CleanTech Talk podcast? Contact us here.

New Podcast: Cruise Talks Autonomous Driving Tech, Regulations, & Auto Design

New Podcast: Battery Mineral Mining Policies & Regional Trends

Written By

James Ayre's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy.

Comments

#1 most loved electric vehicle, solar energy, and battery news & analysis site in the world.

 

Support our work today!

Advertisement

Power CleanTechnica: $3/Month

Tesla News Solar News EV News Data Reports

Advertisement

EV Sales Charts, Graphs, & Stats

Advertisement

Our Electric Car Driver Report

30 Electric Car Benefits

Tesla Model 3 Video

Renewable Energy 101 In Depth

solar power facts

Tesla News

EV Reviews

Home Efficiency

You May Also Like

Batteries

Electric vehicles are only a small part of the world vehicle market, but this is expected to change. While there are several competing battery...

Agriculture

You can join into efforts to save the coral reefs in the Florida Keys. Here's how.

Agriculture

Poop's the problem -- but septic system infrastructure repairs costs big $$.

Climate Change

Newly released grants are directed to diagnose coral reef degradation and to find solutions.

Copyright © 2021 CleanTechnica. The content produced by this site is for entertainment purposes only. Opinions and comments published on this site may not be sanctioned by and do not necessarily represent the views of CleanTechnica, its owners, sponsors, affiliates, or subsidiaries.