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Corals in Australia to face new "bleaching" for the third time

by Ace Damon
Corals in Australia to face new "bleaching" for the third time

Rita Neves Costa

Today at 03:19

Several scientists are warning about the serious consequences of climate change, namely the warming of water, on corals around the world. The Great Barrier Reef in Australia is in danger of having major bleaching for the third time in its history in just five years.

The concept of coral bleaching seems strange, but it is not as unusual as you think. According to the National Ocean Service, an agency of the United States government, when corals are "stressed" either by temperature, light or nutrients, they expel certain algae that are in their tissues, becoming whiter. Several scientists are now saying that if the temperature of the oceans does not drop in the next two weeks, the heat could again damage the Great Barrier Reef, located in northeastern Australia and one of the largest ecosystems in the world.

Cited by the British newspaper "The Guardian", Terry Hughes, director of the Center for Excellence in Coral Reef Studies at the University of James Town in Australia, said that "we are really on the edge". The areas most affected by the increase in water temperature in the Great Barrier Reef are the central and southern areas of this ecosystem, and interestingly the most visited by tourists.

The temperature at the surface of the water is currently 1.5ºC higher in large areas of the reef and it is expected that within a month the heat will reach a new peak. "We are concerned about the level of warming we have at the moment, we have four weeks to reach the peak of summer temperatures. This usually happens in March," explains Terry Hughes. Everything will now depend on how the weather will behave in the next two weeks.

Scientists are even more concerned because the temperature is higher than previous years and is following 2016 and 2017 standards, a time when half of the corals died from successive bleaching. This is another of the drawbacks: if the whitening is severe, the corals do end up dying and are no longer a source of food for other living beings.

According to the magazine "National Geographic", half of the Great Barrier corals died from bleaching: 30% of them died in 2016 and another 20% died in 2017. "The effect is similar to a forest after a devastating fire", reads in the article.

The Australian government agency responsible for meteorological services, "Bureau of Meteorlogy", predicts that the northern areas of the reefs experience a colder temperature in the water, but the same is not expected to happen in the central and southern areas. Australia's environment minister, Sussan Ley, has also issued a warning and said that "predicted weather pattern remains worrying".

Australia's World Wide Fund for Wildlife has joined the chorus of notices and director Richard Leck has stated that "the Great Barrier Reef is on the edge of the knife" and only the next few weeks can demonstrate whether the ecosystem will face major bleaching for the third time in just five years.

The Great Barrier Reef of Australia was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1981. It is currently protected by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park against fishing and invasive tourism, but the increase in water heating, motivated by greenhouse gases , will determine whether the future of one of the largest natural ecosystems will be sustainable or not.

(tagsToTranslate) Jornal de Notícias (t) JN (t) World (t) environment (t) Australia (t) Corals (t) Climate change

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