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Global Coral Bleaching: Causes and Timing Insights



  Mar 11, 2024

First Three Global Coral Bleaching Events: Timing and Causes


 
1. 1998 Coral Bleaching Event

When: The first documented global coral bleaching event occurred in 1998.

Why: This event was primarily driven by a strong El Niño event, coupled with global warming. The El Niño phenomenon caused significant increases in sea surface temperatures across the tropics. This event is noteworthy as it coincided with what was then the warmest year on record, illustrating the exacerbating effect of climate change on natural temperature variations.

2. 2010 Coral Bleaching Event

When: The second global coral bleaching event took place in 2010.

Why : Similar to the first, the 2010 event was associated with a moderate to strong El Niño event, further amplified by ongoing global warming trends. Higher than average sea surface temperatures across many of the world's oceans led to widespread coral bleaching. This event highlighted the increasing frequency and intensity of bleaching events as global temperatures continued to rise.

3. 2014-2017 Coral Bleaching Event

When: The most prolonged global coral bleaching event recorded lasted from 2014 to 2017.

Why: This unprecedented event was not solely attributable to an El Niño condition. While a significant El Niño event in 2015-2016 contributed to the bleaching, this period also saw some of the highest global sea temperatures recorded, regardless of El Niño conditions. Climate change, with steadily increasing global temperatures, played a critical role, underlining the growing impact of human-induced climate change on marine ecosystems.

These events share common causes: elevated sea temperatures driven by a combination of natural climate phenomena like El Niño and the overarching issue of human-induced climate change. The increasing frequency, duration, and severity of these events underscore the urgent need for global actions to mitigate climate change and protect vulnerable marine ecosystems.


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