What Is Coral Bleaching? Could It be The New 'Normal' In The Future?

Long before, coral bleaching has been regarded as a byproduct of an even warmer sea surface temperature. Experts say that when water is too warm, corals will expel the algae also referred to as zooxanthellae, which are known to be living in their tissues causing the coral to turn completely white, and thus creates coral bleaching. Just recently, Australian divers have reportedly witnessed a new bleaching occurrence in the northern part of the Great Barrier Reef, where last year, half of corals in the worst-hit areas have already died.

Coral Bleaching: Could It be The New 'Normal'?

The sea surface temperatures on the Great Barrier Reef appears to be the hottest on record during February, March and April last year; which is a degree or more far above the long-term monthly averages. Additionally, in one of his statements reported by ABC News, Dr. Andrew King, a climate scientist from the University of Melbourne who also happens to have led the research have explained that if emissions are not cut significantly and quickly, then temperatures like March 2016 are likely to become very common by the 2030s and 2040s. Dr. King reveals that in 2030, there would likely be a 70 percent chance of getting temperatures similar to March 2016 and in 2050, that chance would be 97 percent, and it cannot go down but only goes up from there.

Furthermore, the experts have also briefly explained that although corals can recover from bleaching, the most conservative estimates said that once in every five years was the most they can tolerate; while it was more widely accepted that most recoveries took 10 to 30 years. Dr. King said the high-emissions scenario  was what would expectedly occur if emissions were not cut significantly and quickly from their current state. The lead researcher claims that the event that took place in March 2016 was roughly the kind of event that we'd expect every four years from now on in the next few years, becoming more frequent after that.

The Coral Bleaching In The Great Barrier Reef

Meanwhile, scientists say that although the ongoing global bleaching is the longest and most widespread phenomenon the world has ever known, NOAA authorities have explained that what's happening as an ongoing global event has allegedly began in 2014, and still, not everyone seem to agree. According to New Scientist, Gareth Williams of Bangor University in the UK have explained that it takes around a decade for an undisturbed reef to recover from bleaching. Hence, if bleaching occurs more often, reefs don't have time to recover.


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