With yet another coral bleaching event underway on the Great Barrier Reef, we’re reminded of the tragic consequences of climate change.
Even if we manage to stop the planet warming beyond 1.5? this century, scientists predict up to 90% of tropical coral reefs will be severely damaged.
But we believe there’s a chance the Great Barrier Reef can still survive. What’s needed is ongoing, active management through scientific interventions. This, alongside rapid, enormous cuts to global greenhouse gas emissions.
In 2020, the federal government announced the Reef Restoration and Adaptation Program. It aims to help coral reefs adapt to the effects of warming oceans. It included research and development funding into 35 cutting-edge technologies. Additionally, it could be deployed at large scale, from cloud brightening to seeding reefs with heat-tolerant corals.
Now, two years into the effort, there are a number of breakthroughs. This brings us renewed hope for the reef’s future.
Bleaching on the reef
Aerial surveys of the entire reef are currently underway to determine the extent and severity of current bleaching. These should be complete before the end of March.
Meanwhile, United Nations’ reef monitoring delegates are visiting the Great Barrier Reef this week. They will determine whether its World Heritage status will be downgraded.
Early indications suggest bleaching is most severe in areas of greatest accumulated heat stress. Furthermore, particularly in the area around Townsville. In some places, water temperatures have reached 3? higher than normal.