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 Great Barrier Reef could be dead within 20 years, Australia scientists have warned

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PostSubject: Great Barrier Reef could be dead within 20 years, Australia scientists have warned   Tue Nov 22, 2016 2:33 pm

THE Great Barrier Reef is likely to be dead within two decades, experts have warned, with climate change leading to more frequent and severe coral bleaching.
Scientists from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science said they were releasing their latest research paper early, because the reef is in such a dire predicament.
The centre was established in 2011 by the government’s Australian Research Council along with a number of universities and the then Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency.
The research said that if greenhouse gases keep rising, then mass coral bleaching events, like the one currently gripping the reef, will happen every two years by the mid-2030s.
That spells death for large parts of the reef because corals won’t get the 15-year break they need to recover.
“Our research showed this year’s bleaching event is 175 times more likely today than in a world where humans weren’t emitting greenhouse gases. We have loaded the odds against the survival of one of the world’s greatest natural wonders,” lead author Andrew King said on Friday.
The scientists found climate change increased ocean temperatures by 1C during this year’s March bleaching event, which authorities have called the worst on record.
“Climate change is very likely to make the extreme ocean temperatures underpinning this year’s massive coral bleaching event occur every two years, during March, by 2034,” they warned.

Colourful scenes like this, at the Agincourt Reefs adjacent to Port Douglas, North Queensland, could become a thing of the past.Source:Supplied

Professor Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, who worked on the new research paper, said it confirmed what he predicted back in 1999, when he controversially forecast the loss of coral-dominated reefs on the Great Barrier Reef by 2040.


He says his old predictions now appear to be conservative.
“(Coral) recovery rates are being overwhelmed by more frequent and severe mass coral bleaching,” said the professor, who also leads the University of Queensland’s Global Change Institute.
The scientists released the research paper early, ahead of the usual peer review process, because they said its findings were so grave, and time is everything in terms of the reef’s survival.
“We are confident in the results because these kind of attribution studies are well established but what we found demands urgent action if we are to preserve the reef,” Dr King said.
He warned the loss of Great Barrier Reef corals would put thousands of species at risk, and imperil 69,000 jobs in the tourism and fishing industries that depend on it.
On Thursday, the Bureau of Meteorology said the weakening of El Niño was bringing water temperatures down which would likely bring some relief to the reef. However, the Indian Ocean remained warm and coral bleaching had already been observed off the Western Australian coast.

http://www.news.com.au/technology/environment/climate-change/great-barrier-reef-could-be-dead-within-20-years-australia-scientists-have-warned/news-story/e68ad45740a3239afa52d9f22b09c4a0
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