The Great Barrier Reef still victim of “extensive bleaching”

The Great Barrier Reef is undergoing “extensive bleaching”, the fourth since 2016, the authority in charge of this reef said on Friday, a phenomenon largely attributed to climate change. The world’s largest coral reef, which stretches more than 2,300 kilometers along Australia’s northeast coast, bears witness to the consequences of rising temperatures, according to this authority.

A reversible situation

Although the bleached corals are under stress, they can still recover if conditions improve, however, the same source pointed out: “Weather conditions over the next two weeks are crucial in determining the extent and severity of coral bleaching. corals in the marine park. »

The study into the massive bleaching phenomenon was released four days after the United Nations began inspecting the Great Barrier Reef to assess whether the World Heritage-listed site is protected from climate change.

” In danger “

“The beloved bright colors of the Great Barrier Reef are being replaced by […] a ghostly white,” lamented Martin Zavan, an activist with Greenpeace Australia. He urged the government to show the areas affected by this phenomenon to the UN mission currently inspecting the reef, rather than the scenic areas that have not been affected. “If the government is serious about allowing the UN mission to get a full picture of the state of the reef, it needs to take the mission to the north and center of the reef,” Martin Zavan said.

The UNESCO mission aims to assess whether the Australian government is doing enough to address threats to the Great Barrier Reef, including climate change, before the World Heritage Commission decides in June whether to classify it as “at risk”.

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Coral reefs will ‘most likely be destroyed’

Last July, the World Heritage Commission decided not to classify the site as “in danger”, to the surprise of many observers and against the recommendation of Unesco. Australia launched a billion-dollar “Reef 2050” protection plan after the United Nations threatened in 2015 to decommission the site.

Last month, researchers warned that coral reefs, home to a quarter of marine wildlife and the livelihoods of more than half a billion people, will most likely be destroyed, even if the climate goals of the Paris agreement are reached.

1,500 species of fish and 4,000 types of molluscs

According to the authors of the report published in the journal Plos Climatean average increase of 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels would prevent more than 99% of the world’s coral reefs from recovering from increasingly frequent marine heat waves.

“The harsh reality is that there is no threshold” beyond which global warming would not impact coral reefs, analyzed with AFP Adele Dixon, researcher at the school of biology of the University of Leeds. “1.5 degrees is still too much warming for frontline ecosystems”, like corals. The Great Barrier Reef is home to some 1,500 species of fish and 4,000 types of molluscs.

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