How Ocean Warming Has Killed 50% of Great Barrier Reef's Coral

How Ocean Warming Has Killed 50% of Great Barrier Reef's Coral

More than half of the Great Barrier Reef has lost its coral to ocean warming and mass mortality events.

Researchers from James Cook University in Australia have found that more than half of the coral in the Great Barrier Reef was killed between 1995 and 2017. This was due to long-term ocean warming and a series of mortality events, including 4 mass bleaching episodes.

The resilience of the reef, its ability to bounce back from recurrent mass bleaching events has been compromised,’ explains Prof. Terry Hughes.

Coral bleaching happens when the water is too warm; the corals expel algae from their tissues, causing them to turn completely white. This added stress greatly increases mortality rates and impacts other organisms living within the reef.

The researchers say global temperatures and greenhouse gas emissions must stop rising. ‘We do have a window of opportunity right now to try and achieve the Paris Agreement targets,’ says Hughes.