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Tue Mar 31, 2020, 09:04 PM

Climate crisis may have pushed world's tropical coral reefs to tipping point of 'near-annual' bleach

Source: The Guardian

Climate crisis may have pushed world's tropical coral reefs to tipping point of 'near-annual' bleaching

Exclusive: Mass bleaching seen along Great Barrier Reef could mark start of global-scale event, expert warns

Graham Readfearn
Tue 31 Mar 2020 17.30 BST

Rising ocean temperatures could have pushed the world’s tropical coral reefs over a tipping point where they are hit by bleaching on a “near-annual” basis, according to the head of a US government agency program that monitors the globe’s coral reefs.

Dr Mark Eakin, coordinator of Coral Reef Watch at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, told Guardian Australia there was a risk that mass bleaching seen along the length of the Great Barrier Reef in 2020 could mark the start of another global-scale bleaching event.

Tropical coral reefs tend to be at a higher risk of bleaching during times when the Pacific Ocean is in a phase known as El Niño. The latest bleaching on the reef has hit during this cycle’s neutral phase.

“The real concern is with this much bleaching without tropical forcing,” Eakin said. “This may be a sign we’ve now tipped over to near-annual bleaching in many locations.”

“It’s quite concerning that we are getting this much heat stress across the Great Barrier Reef in an Enso (El Niño southern oscillation)-neutral year.


Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/apr/01/climate-crisis-may-have-pushed-worlds-tropical-coral-reefs-to-tipping-point-of-near-annual-bleaching

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