Traveling to the Great Barrier Reef must be on someone’s bucket list. But the great natural wonder may not wait for its lovers.
Two-thirds of the Great Barrier Reef has been damaged because of bleaching in consecutive years, aerial surveys have shown. And experts are worried that the coral might not be able to recover.
Coral bleaching happens when water temperatures rise for a sustained period of time. And last year’s mass bleaching was the worst-ever recorded on the Great Barrier Reef after the 1998 and 2002 bleaching events.
To help save the reef, scientists and experts are trying different ways.
Australian tourism industry and the Reef and Rainforest Research Centre had proposed a plan to use $9m to pump cold water on to the Great Barrier Reef’s tourist hotspots to save off coral bleaching.
Researchers at the Sydney Institute of Marine Science and the University of Sydney School of Geosciences have explored the possibility of making low-lying clouds off the northeastern coast of Australia more reflective in order to cool the waters surrounding the world’s biggest coral reef system.
But some scientists believe that only an end of global warming can save the Great Barrier Reef.
“Securing a future for coral reefs, including intensively managed ones such as the Great Barrier Reef, ultimately requires urgent and rapid action to reduce global warming.” Lead professor Terry Hughes of ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies told Wired.
The reef – a vast collection of thousands of smaller coral reefs stretching from the northern tip of Queensland to the state’s southern city of Bundaberg – was given World Heritage status in 1981.
The UN says it is the “most biodiverse” of all the World Heritage sites, and of “enormous scientific and intrinsic importance”.