Scientists said on Friday that large portions of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef could be useless by the 2030s due to sudden changes in sea temperatures that caused the worst bleaching ever recorded in history.
According to the ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science, if greenhouse gasses keep on rising, the world’s largest coral reef system will not last long enough.
“These extreme temperatures will become commonplace by the 2030s, putting a great strain on the ecosystems of the Great Barrier Reef. Our research showed this year’s bleaching event is 175 times more likely today than in a world where humans weren’t emitting greenhouse gasses. We have loaded the odds against the survival of one of the world’s greatest natural wonders,” said researcher Andrew King.
Prior to the release of King’s study, scholars from the James Cook University also noted that based on the extensive aerial and underwater surveys they have conducted, only a minimal percentage of the body of water was able to escape the bleaching.
Meanwhile, researchers also said that the areas experiencing the severity of the whitening are located in the most pristine coasts of the 2,300-kilometer reef.
“Reefs need time, around 15 years, to completely recover from a coral bleaching event of this magnitude. Recovery rates are being overwhelmed by more frequent and severe mass coral bleaching,” said University of Queensland’s Global Change Institute scientist Ove Hoegh-Guldberg.