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Fri Mar 27, 2020, 09:06 AM

Third Mass Bleaching Event In Five Years For Great Barrier Reef; 2/20 Warmest Month On Record

Record-breaking warm waters have bleached large parts of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef this year, as they did in 2016 and 2017, scientists reported on Thursday — the latest sign that global warming threatens the health of one of the world’s most important marine ecosystems.

“We can confirm that the Great Barrier Reef is experiencing its third mass bleaching event in five years,” David Wachenfeld, chief scientist of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, said in a video posted on its website.


The Great Barrier Reef Authority, an Australian government agency, based its announcement of mass bleaching on observations, still underway, made in the water and from the air. The data is new. But the same weather patterns that generated record-breaking heat and catastrophic fires in Australia during the Southern Hemisphere’s spring and summer have also heated the oceans.

In terms of water temperatures around the reef, February was the warmest month on record, with readings in some places more than 5 degrees Fahrenheit above average for the time of year, the authority recently reported. The Great Barrier Reef remains under pressure from heat stress that accumulated over the 2019/20 summer, particularly in February and early March 2020, and resultant bleaching that is occurring,” the authority said in a statement released on Thursday.



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