Australia’s Great Barrier Reef is suffering from widespread and severe coral bleaching two years after mass bleaching due to high sea temperatures, a government agency said on Friday.
The report from the Great Barrier Reef Marine Authority, which manages the world’s largest coral reef ecosystem, comes three days before a United Nations delegation is due to assess whether the reef’s World Heritage List should be downgraded due to the ravages of climate change.
“Weather patterns over the next few weeks will be critical in determining the overall extent and severity of coral bleaching across the marine park,” the agency said.
“Bleaching has been identified throughout the Marine Park – it is widespread but variable in several regions and ranges from mild to severe,” the agency added.
The reef has suffered significantly from coral bleaching caused by unusually warm sea temperatures in 2016, 2017 and 2020. The previous bleaching damaged two-thirds of the coral.
Environmental group Greenpeace said the severe and widespread coral bleaching suffered during a La Niña weather pattern associated with cooler temperatures in the Pacific is evidence of the Australian government’s failure to protect corals from the effects of climate change .
“This is a sure sign that climate change caused by the burning of coal, oil and gas is threatening the very existence of our reef,” Martin Zavan, Pacific climate impact activist for Greenpeace Australia, said in a statement.
In July last year, Australia received enough international support to delay an attempt by UNESCO, the United Nations cultural body, to downgrade the reef’s World Heritage status to “at risk” because of damage caused by climate change.
But the question will be back on the agenda of the World Heritage Committee at its next annual meeting in June.
A UN delegation will inspect the condition of the reef next week.
https://www.independent.co.uk/climate-change/news/great-barrier-reef-coral-bleaching-b2039184.html The Great Barrier Reef is suffering from widespread coral bleaching