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News > Australia

El Niño Threatens Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, Experts Warn

  • Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. Jul. 10, 2023.

    Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. Jul. 10, 2023. | Photo: Twitter/@shanghaidaily

Published 10 July 2023

"...marine heatwave caused by the climate driver could trigger a mass coral bleaching event..."

On Monday, marine researchers warned that the El Niño event could pose a major threat to the health of Australia's Great Barrier Reef.


The Great Barrier Reef Affected by Massive Bleaching

According to official reports, a marine heatwave caused by the climate driver could trigger a mass coral bleaching event on the reef.

In earlier July, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said that El Niño conditions have developed in the tropical Pacific for the first time in seven years, setting the stage for a probable surge in global temperatures and disruptive weather and climate patterns.

Several researchers point out that the phenomenon is expected to drive global ocean temperatures above their long-term average and bring warmer and drier weather to Australia.

According to the WMO latest forecast, there is a 90 percent probability that the El Niño event will continue during the second half of 2023; with, at least, a moderate strength.

Richard Leck, head of oceans at the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Australia, said that up to 30 percent of shallow water corals on the reef were bleached when the last strong El Niño caused events in consecutive years.

"The reality is for anyone who cares about the reef is that the best we can do is cross our fingers and hope that it's cloudy or there's a storm," Leck said in an official statement on Monday.

Official data shows that there have been six mass bleaching events on the barrier reef, the world's largest coral reef, since 1998.

Scientists were particularly alarmed by the 2022 bleaching event, the first during a La Niña phase when ocean temperatures are typically cooler.


Richard Leck
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