A new record heatwave in north Queensland, Australia, will increase, once again, the water temperature above average, increasing the risks of another coral bleaching episode for the Great Barrier Reef. The event would take place next year, according to a recent study.
While dozens of record temperatures for November have been recorded along the reef coastline this week, the most worrying one was the heatwave affecting Cairns which in two consecutive days reached temperatures of 42.6 degrees Celsius and 40.9 degrees Celsius. These extreme temperatures also triggered over 130 bushfires which are “not the kind of fire we had seen in Queensland before,” as premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said on Twitter. “Heatwave records and fire weather is unprecedented,” the premier added.
“This is terrifying. An early summer heatwave breaks all records, lifting the chances of another episode of coral mortality on the Great Barrier Reef next February-March,” also said Terry Hughes, a reef scientist at James Cook University.
Great Barrier Reef Would Be Hit By Coral Bleaching Next Year Due To A New Record Heatwave
“[Record heatwave] certainly adds heat to the system. We’ve seen record-breaking land temperatures this week, which we expect to see into the future with climate change and everything heating up. We’re in a watch phase. There’s definitely the potential and how the local weather patterns pan out in January and February will really determine whether we get a large-scale bleaching event or not,” said coral ecophysiologist Dr. Neal Cantin.
“There are some signs we may avoid bleaching this summer. At this stage, it’s less likely to be as bad as 2016, but we’ll be ready to respond if coral bleaching occurs,” he added.
“It’s going to be very hard to mitigate a lot of the predicted climate impacts, so adaptation for the future is going to be really important. Especially when you overlay climate change on a growing population base. The number of people living on the Queensland coast is likely to double by about 2030. Because of climate change, we’re looking at there being more exposure to disaster risks there as well,” concluded Andrew Gissing from the firm Risk Frontiers for Guardian Australia.
With over seven years of experience in online journalism, Vadim is passionate about everything related to science and the environment. For us, he will thus cover climate, environment, and science news, among others.