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Rise in sea temperatures blamed for damage to Great Barrier Reef

Rise in sea temperatures blamed for damage to Great Barrier Reef

An aerial surveys carried out by a group of scientists showed that bleaching has affected about 1,500km (900 miles) stretch of the reef.

In 2016, bleaching was most severe in the northern third of the Reef, while one year on, the middle third has experienced the most intense coral bleaching including off Townsville and south towards Mackay.

Just last month, the Australian government's Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority reported noticing a second straight year of mass coral bleaching, after it conducted its own aerial survey.

Kerry also explained that the bleached corals normally take about a decade to completely recover, but he later pointed out that "mass bleaching events 12 months apart offer zero prospect of recovery for reefs that were damaged in 2016".

A groundbreaking study published past year found that climate change is the primary cause of coral reef degradation around the world.

When researchers flew over the reef for an aerial survey, they were shocked.

The 2017 survey of the reef covered more than 8,000km (5,000 miles) and almost 800 coral reefs that matched the 2016 aerial surveys.

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Researchers have found two consecutive mass coral bleaching events in the reef, part of which can be attributable to climate change.

Hughes said that the reef was struggling with multiple impacts. Scientists have concluded that the only hope of preserving the reef is to reverse the global warming that is raising ocean water temperatures.

"We need to protect the Great Barrier Reef, because it is one of the great tourism destinations of Queensland", he said. It's only the third recorded instance of global coral bleaching, with the other two coming in 1998 and 2010, but it's easily the longest running. Securing a future for coral reefs "ultimately requires urgent and rapid action to reduce global warming".

Bleaching is caused by abnormal environmental conditions, such as heightened sea temperatures, which causes coral to drive out the algae known as zooxanthallae that gives them colour, leaving the coral bleached and looking white.

Despite the massive devastation of the world heritage site, UNESCO's World Heritage Committee in 2015 decided NOT to put the Great Barrier Reef on its "in danger" list. An estimated 93 percent of all increases in the Earth's heat are absorbed by oceans, and when that happens, it causes corals to become stressed, resulting in the loss of photosynthetic algae. The reefs which were damaged two years in a row, the problem reached to be extremely severe because they are dying off. But if temperatures remain high, eventually the coral will die, removing the natural habitat for many species of marine life.

"Last year was bad enough, this year is a disaster year", he told the newspaper.

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