A new research reveals that unusually warm sea temperatures could cause another coral bleaching event in the Great Barrier Reef. Scientists also speculate that this could rise, which can also affect the corals in Sydney.
“Currently we’re seeing abnormal, widespread but relatively modest levels of bleaching,” explains Terry Hughes, the director of the ARC Center of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies. “We’ll know in a week or two if another major event is unfolding.”
Hughes adds that the temperatures will not peak until March. So it depends if the area would still experience one or more heat waves or a tropical cyclone that will cool the water temperatures down.
Coral bleaching has garnered the attention of the public last year, when several areas of the Great Barrier Reef experienced it. The region most affected was the north of Cairns, which scientists estimated that 11 percent to 83 percent of it suffered the bleaching.
According to the Sydney Morning Herald, the current readings of the water indicate that it is only moderately warmer than average or one degree warmer than usual. Meanwhile, James Cook University’s reef ecologist Andrew Baird says that the corals have the ability to recover but some species could still be vulnerable to rising temperatures, especially if it would rise to dangerous levels. Baird cites that the egg quality and fecundity of corals can take two years to recover.
Air and sea temperatures in Townsville are six digress more than the average for February. The air and sea temperatures have also been warm in other areas and may increase while we are still waiting for the cyclones, which would not occur until months later.
Coral reefs situated in the NSW coast and in Sydney Harbor are also at risk of an immediate risk. Temperatures off Sydney have also rose up to 26 degrees recently. Sydney could also face its hottest summer yet. Corals located close to the Lord Howe Island are also threatened. Some rare species could face bleaching and if this happens very badly, extinction should be expected.
Last year, the Australian Research Council (ARC) Center of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies revealed that almost 67 percent of the corals have died in the Barrier Reef’s north. This finding was made possible by a study at James Cook University. The scientists also found that only six percent of the Reef’s central section was affected by it. The corals could recover but if climate change continues to affect water temperature, recovery could be more complicated.