coral bleaching

Marine heatwaves continue decimating corals in the Pilbara with climate change

Marine heatwaves are having a marked impact on coral reef systems off the Pilbara coast. A CSIRO and University of Western Australia study in progress found bleaching and decimation of ancient porite corals - many up to 400 years old - in a recent visit to Barrow Island. The oceans around Australia were unusually warm in 2013. Globally the deep oceans are also continuing to warm.

“We suspect this bleaching event was due to marine heatwaves that occurred in the region over the past few summers, and to see it up close was sobering,” said Dr Russ Babcock, CSIRO lead scientist, “But to offset this loss, some reefs only a short distance north showed much less damage and will continue to contribute to a healthy ecosystem."

Coral reefs being pushed to extinction by global warming

Increasing sea surface temperatures are imperilling coral reef ecosystems say Australian marine and climate scientists. A new scientific paper reveals that atmospheric warming of 2 degrees celsius is too much for nearly all the world's coral reef ecosystems, including the Great Barrier Reef. The scientists argue that to preserve greater than 10 per cent of coral reefs worldwide would require limiting global warming to below 1.5 °C. This equates to the goal of reducing carbon in the atmosphere to 350ppm, rather than a 2 degree rise or 450ppm that the UN Framwework Convention on Climate Change has adopted as the safe limit at several meetings.

Atmospheric concentration of CO2 currently stands at 392.41ppm. With current pledged reduction in emissions we are heading for 4.4 °C of warming by the end of the century according to the Climate Scoreboard.

Related: The True Cost of Australia's Coal Boom | Greenpeace report: Boom Goes the Reef: Australia's coal export boom and the industrialisation of the Great Barrier Reef (PDF) | The Conversation: - Climate change guardrail too hot for coral reefs?

Scientist: Extinction threatens coral reefs unless CO2 limited to 350ppm

COPENHAGEN. Dec 9, 2009. Extinction of Coral reefs and 10-20% of marine species is likely if greehouse gases aren't brought down to 350ppm, warned Professor Ove Hoegh-Guldberg from the University of Queensland. He gave a presentation (audio 14mins 19s) at the US Pavilion at the COP15 climate negotiations in Copenhagen about the threat of climate change to the world's coral reefs. Over 500 million people living in approximately 90 nations are dependant in some way on coral reefs.