Jodie L. Rummer and Scott F. Heron write in The Conversation (21.3.22) about the latest bout of coral bleaching to strike the Great Barrier Reef, highlighting how scientists are struggling to simulate these extreme environmental conditions in their laboratories.
‘To our horror, another mass coral bleaching event may be striking the Great Barrier Reef, with water temperatures reaching up to 3℃ higher than average in some places. This would be the sixth such event since the late 1990s, and the fourth since 2016.
‘It comes as a monitoring mission from the United Nations arrives in Queensland today to inspect the reef and consider listing the World Heritage site as “in danger”.
‘As coral reef scientists, we’ve seen firsthand how the Great Barrier Reef is nearing its tipping point, beyond which the reef will lose its function as a viable ecosystem. This is not only due to climate change exacerbating marine heatwaves, but also higher ocean acidity, loss of oxygen, pollution, and more.
‘Scientists are at our own tipping points, too. The reef is suffering environmental conditions so extreme, we’re struggling to simulate these scenarios in our laboratories. Even though Australia has world-class facilities, we are proverbially beating our heads against the wall each year as conditions worsen.
‘It’s getting harder for scientists to predict how these conditions will affect individual species, let alone the health and biodiversity of reef ecosystems. But let’s explore what we do know.’
- Adapt, move, or die: repeated coral bleaching leaves wildlife on the Great Barrier Reef with few options »
- Severe coral bleaching along 500 kilometres of Great Barrier Reef »
- Dead coral found at Great Barrier Reef as widespread bleaching event unfolds »
- Great Barrier Reef facing another severe bleaching event ahead of UN delegation visit »
- Great Barrier Reef hit by sixth mass bleaching event, leading coral scientist says »
- ‘Don’t put lipstick on it’: UN to inspect Great Barrier Reef ahead of critical status decision »
- Australia is spending billions on the Great Barrier Reef. Will it do any good? »
- ‘It’s not supposed to be white’: one of the Great Barrier Reef’s healthiest reefs succumbs to bleaching »
- UN mission must see coral bleaching to get ‘whole picture’ of Great Barrier Reef, experts say »
- Ningaloo Reef facing heightened coral bleaching risk, putting Exmouth tourism operators on alert »
- Great Barrier Reef authority confirms unprecedented sixth mass coral bleaching event »
- Another mass bleaching event is devastating the Great Barrier Reef. What will it take for coral to survive? »
- ‘Devastating’: 91% of reefs surveyed on Great Barrier Reef affected by coral bleaching in 2022 »
- We just spent two weeks surveying the Great Barrier Reef. What we saw was an utter tragedy »
- Mass coral bleaching forces review of reef protection plan »