Great Barrier Reef could be dead in 20 years, says scientists

Photo by Sarah Ackerman / CC BY 2.0
  • Scientists warned that large portions of the Great Barrier Reef could be dead soon
  • Studies reveal that the reef faces problems on bleaching caused by high water temperatures
  • Researchers said that only 7 percent of the reef was left unaffected by the problem

A group of scientists warned on Friday that large portions of the Great Barrier Reef could be dead in the next 20 years due to warming sea temperatures, according to an article published by Agence France-Presse that was wired to GMA News Online.

In a study released by the ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science, it was disclosed that Australia’s natural wonder is suffering its worst bleaching ever recorded in history; affecting at least 93 percent of its corals.

The government-backed group also added that if greenhouse gasses keep on rising, the world’s largest coral reef system could not last any longer.

These extreme temperatures will become commonplace by the 2030s, putting a great strain on the ecosystems of the Great Barrier Reef. Our research showed this year’s bleaching event is 175 times more likely today than in a world where humans weren’t emitting greenhouse gasses. We have loaded the odds against the survival of one of the world’s greatest natural wonders,” said Andrew King, lead author of the research.

He also added that the only hope for the reef to recover is the lowering of water temperature so that algae can recolonize the area.

Prior to the release of King’s research, Australia’s James Cook University also said that based on the extensive aerial and underwater surveys it has conducted, only 7 percent of the reef was spared by the bleaching.

It was also noted that the areas experiencing the most severe effects of the whitening are the northern and most pristine coasts of the 2,300-kilometer body of water.

Reefs need time, around 15 years, to completely recover from a coral bleaching event of this magnitude. Recovery rates are being overwhelmed by more frequent and severe mass coral bleaching,” said Ove Hoegh-Guldberg of the University of Queensland’s Global Change Institute.