Scientists are lamenting the latest data on coral bleaching at the Great Barrier Reef.It suggests that the legendary reef is nearing its end.
An Australia Research Council found fresh damage spanning some 8,000 km along the Great Barrier Reef, and an expert among them said, "Last year was bad enough; this is a disaster."
Severe bleaching events have come back to back and affected two-thirds of the Great Barrier Reef in Australia according to new aerial surveys.The Australian Research Council's Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies completed aerial surveys of the largest living structure in the world last week, and they scored the bleaching at 800 coral reefs spanning 8,000 km.
The data shows two consecutive mass bleaching events in which 1,500 km worth have been affected, which only leaves the southern third of the reef unaffected.
Terry Hughes is a professor who led the surveys, and he said the amount of time necessary for the coral to recover comes out to about 10 years in the best-case scenario (rapid-growth corals).This raised concerns about increases in the rate of mass bleaching events.
"The significance of bleaching this year is that it's back to back, so there's been zero time for recovery," said Hughes. "It's too early yet to tell what the full death toll will be from this year's bleaching, but clearly it will extend 500 km south of last year's bleaching."
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The Australian Research Council's Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies completed aerial surveys of the largest living structure in the world last week, and they scored the bleaching at 800 coral reefs spanning 8,000 km.