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Great Barrier Reef bleaching event: what happens next?

David Suggett writes in The Conversation (22.3.16) about the implications of government authorities increasing the threat levels posed by coral bleaching to the health of the Great Barrier Reef.

‘Monitoring the scale and intensity with which coral bleaching manifests in real time is not a job we wish for, but in reality it provides a powerful tool to enable better management against future events.

‘It is crucial we learn from El Niño events, which we can treat as natural experiments, to show just how much bleaching occurs as conditions change. It can show us which species are most affected and to what extent the patterns and timing of bleaching reflect the reef’s weakened state from other stresses such as pollution.

‘To facilitate this, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) has a Coral Bleaching Response plan that allows researchers and managers to gauge the impacts. The widespread bleaching seen in the Great Barrier Reef’s north has now seen the “response level” raised to level 3, indicating the most severe situation catered for by the plan.’

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