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Unprecedented Coral Bleaching in Great Barrier Reef



  May 17, 2024

The Great Barrier Reef is seeing unprecedented coral bleaching



Causes:

1. Heat Stress: The primary cause of coral bleaching is heat stress resulting from high sea temperatures and increased UV radiation. A temperature increase of just one degree Celsius for only four weeks can trigger bleaching.

2. Climate Change: Human activities, primarily the burning of fossil fuels like coal, oil, and gas, have been the main driver of climate change, leading to long-term shifts in temperatures and weather patterns.

3. Other Environmental Stressors: Changes in water quality, increased sun exposure, and extreme low tides can also cause corals to bleach.

Effects:

1. Bleaching: When corals are under stress, they expel the microscopic algae that live in their tissues, causing their tissues to become transparent and revealing their white skeleton. This is known as coral bleaching.

2. Increased Vulnerability: Bleached corals are not dead, but they are more at risk of starvation and disease. They also tend to be more susceptible to disease and struggle to reproduce.

3. Mass Bleaching Events: The past two decades have seen several widespread coral bleaching events on the Great Barrier Reef, with four mass bleaching events in the last seven years.

Remedies:

1. Climate Action: The most effective way to prevent coral bleaching is to address its root cause: climate change. This involves reducing carbon emissions and making a rapid shift towards renewable energy.

2. Improved Water Quality: Good water quality can help corals recover from bleaching.

3. Coral Restoration: Techniques such as growing and planting healthy baby corals and coral fragments can help repopulate damaged reefs.

4. Protection from Overfishing: Avoiding over-extraction of fish that eat plant material can minimize the overgrowth of algae, helping to maintain a healthy reef ecosystem.

It's important to note that while these remedies can help mitigate the effects of coral bleaching, the most effective solution is to address the root cause: climate change. By reducing greenhouse gas emissions and transitioning to renewable energy sources, we can help protect the Great Barrier Reef and other vital ecosystems around the world.



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