Anticipated Fourth Mass Coral Bleaching Event Threatens World: NOAA

by | Mar 6, 2024 | Daily News, Environmental News

Home » Environmental News » Anticipated Fourth Mass Coral Bleaching Event Threatens World: NOAA

 

The threat of a fourth mass coral bleaching event looms large over the world’s oceans, posing dire consequences for tropical reefs, including segments of Australia’s iconic Great Barrier Reef, warns the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Marine biologists are on heightened alert following months of unprecedented ocean heat, driven by the dual forces of climate change and the El Nino climate pattern.

Derek Manzello, an ecologist coordinating NOAA’s Coral Reef Watch, the global authority on coral bleaching risk, expressed grave concern: “It’s looking like the entirety of the Southern Hemisphere is probably going to bleach this year… We are literally sitting on the cusp of the worst bleaching event in the history of the planet.

Coral bleaching occurs when corals expel the algae residing in their tissues due to heat stress. Without these algae, corals lose their vibrant colours, becoming susceptible to starvation and disease. The consequences extend beyond the reefs, impacting ocean ecosystems, fisheries, and tourism-dependent economies.

Anticipated Fourth Mass Coral Bleaching Event Threatens World: NOAA

The previous global coral bleaching event, spanning from 2014 to 2017, led to significant coral loss, with the Great Barrier Reef alone losing nearly a third of its corals. This year, however, the situation appears graver, with reports of widespread bleaching across the Southern Hemisphere.

Following record bleaching in the Caribbean last year, the Southern Hemisphere is currently experiencing widespread bleaching, including the entirety of the Great Barrier Reef and American Samoa.

While coral bleaching is often linked to the El Nino climate phenomenon, the recent global temperature rise of over 1.5 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels poses an additional threat. Scientists warn that sustained temperature increases beyond this threshold could lead to catastrophic coral die-offs, potentially resulting in the loss of 90% of the world’s corals.

Field Inspections and Monitoring

To declare a global fourth mass coral bleaching event, widespread bleaching must occur across the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans. Scientists utilize sea surface temperature data and satellite imagery to assess the extent of bleaching.

Although technical criteria for declaring the fourth mass bleaching event have already been met, final confirmation awaits observations from the Indian Ocean. Field inspections, including aerial surveys over the Great Barrier Reef, are underway to assess the extent of bleaching and determine necessary conservation measures.

Joanne Manning, spokesperson for the Australian Institute of Marine Science, confirms extensive bleaching across various regions of the Great Barrier Reef, signaling the urgent need for comprehensive conservation efforts.

As the world braces for the potentially catastrophic consequences of the looming fourth mass coral bleaching event, urgent global action to combat climate change and protect coral reefs becomes increasingly imperative.

Also Read: SpaceX Launches Methanesat Into Orbit To Monitor Pollution

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