The latest bleaching event comes despite La Niña
, a weather system that typically creates more movement in the water and increases rain and cloud cover
, helping to reduce average maximum temperatures
It’s the fourth mass bleaching in six years and the first since 2020, when about one quarter of the reef surveyed showed signs of severe bleaching. That event came just three years after back-to-back bleaching events in 2016 そして 2017. Previous bleaching occurred in 1998 そして 2002.
David Wachenfeld, chief scientist at the GBRMPA, said the coral was stressed but not dead.
“If the water temperature decreases, bleached corals can recover from this stress. It is important to remember that we had a mass bleaching event in 2020, but there was very low coral mortality,” Wachenfeld said.
Natural wonder under threat
Australia’s Great Barrier Reef stretches 1,400 マイル (2,300 キロメートル) down the Queensland coast. Before the pandemic forced borders to close, it attracted around three million tourists each year.
This year aerial surveys with helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft showed the worst of the bleaching is near Townsville. Tourist areas near Cairns and Port Douglas have been less affected due to lower levels of heat stress.
Bleaching occurs when stressed coral ejects algae from within its tissue, depriving it of a food source. If conditions don’t improve, coral can starve and die, turning white as its carbonate skeleton is exposed.
“Even the most robust corals require nearly a decade to recover,” said Jodie Rummer, associate professor of Marine Biology at James Cook University in Townsville.
“So we’re really losing that window of recovery. We’re getting back-to-back bleaching events, back-to-back heat waves. そして, and the corals just aren’t adapting to these new conditions,” 彼女は言いました.
The Australian government has been under pressure from UNESCO to prove that it’s doing enough to save the reef.
今年の初め, the Australian government pledged one billion Australian dollars ($ 700 百万) spread over 10 years to support new climate adaptation technology, investment in water quality programs, and protection for key reef species.
While the extra funding was welcomed, the government has been called out by global climate experts, とりわけ, for not doing enough to transition Australia away from fossil fuels.
The Climate Action Tracker gives the country a “highly insufficient rating” for its action on climate change. “The government appears intent on replacing fossil fuels with fossil fuels,” それは言う, citing the government’s “gas-led recovery” プログラム, announced in 2020 to lead the country out an economic downturn related to the spread of Covid-19.
月曜日に, United Nations Chief Antonio Guterres name-checked Australia among a “handful of holdouts” in the group of G20 countries who had not announced
“meaningful emissions reductions.
He said countries and private businesses who invest in coal are costing the world its climate targets. And he said money spent on fossil fuels and subsidies was “a stupid investment leading to billions in stranded assets.”
“It’s time to end fossil fuel subsidies and stop the expansion of oil and gas exploration,” 彼は言った.
Amanda McKenzie, CEO of the Climate Council, said the real issue the government should be addressing is climate change.
“To give our reef a fighting chance, we must deal with the number one problem: 連続したゲーム—... No amount of funding will stop these bleaching events unless we drive down our emissions this decade,” 彼女は声明で言った.