Australia's record heat means another blow to the Great Barrier Reef

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<pre><pre>Australia's record heat means another blow to the Great Barrier Reef
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Record-breaking warm waters have bleached large parts of Australia's Great Barrier Reef this year, as they did in 2016 and 2017, scientists reported Thursday, the latest sign that global warming threatens the health of one of the ecosystems. most important marine in the world.

"We can confirm that the Great Barrier Reef is experiencing its third massive bleaching event in five years," David Wachenfeld, chief scientist for the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, said in a video posted on his website.

Water that is warmer than normal stresses corals that create a reef, causing them to lose color and even turn white. Corals that experience mild or moderate bleaching generally recover, but those that severely bleach often die.

Scientists say reefs around the world have been dying at an alarming rate for several years due to global warming. Coral reefs grow very slowly, and although most of them can only live in warm waters, they are very sensitive to above-normal temperatures.

The Great Barrier Reef is estimated to be compatible with thousands of marine species, and is essential to the lives of some Aboriginal groups and the natives of the Torres Strait Islands, between the Australian continent and New Guinea.

It also promotes important economic activities such as tourism and fishing; Scientists said important reef tourism areas, particularly in the north, have not been seriously affected this year.

The Great Barrier Reef Authority, an Australian government agency, based its massive bleaching announcement on observations, still ongoing, made in the water and from the air.

The data is new. But the same weather patterns that generated Record heat and catastrophic fires in Australia during the southern hemisphere spring and summer have also warmed the oceans.

In terms of water temperatures around the reef, February was the warmest month on record, with readings in places more than 5 degrees Fahrenheit above average for the time of year, the authority recently reported.

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