Great Barrier Reef coral bleaching: Top Australian scientists reveal man-made climate change may kill reef in 20 years

By @ritwikroy1985 on
Great Barrier Reef
Peter Gash, owner and manager of the Lady Elliot Island Eco Resort in the Great Barrier Reef area, snorkels during an inspection of the reef's condition in an area called the 'Coral Gardens' located at Lady Elliot Island, Australia, in this June 11, 2015 file photo. Reuters/David Gray

Scientists from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science have rung the death knell for Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. They have released their latest research paper early as the reef is in a terrible shape and may become dead in another 20 years.

Large parts of the reef are already under death threat because of the widespread coral bleaching event. Unfortunately, it is human-driven climate change that may deliver the death blow on the reef, said top Australian scientist.

The scientists warned that if greenhouse gases keep rising, then by mid-2030s, the reef will start experiencing deadly coral bleaching events, like the current one every two years. As the corals won’t get the breathing time of 15 years to fully recover, the entire reef will die.

According to the scientists, ocean temperatures rose by one degree Celsius due to man-made climate change during March’s bleaching and it’s the worst on record, reports Sky News.

“Our research showed this year's bleaching event is 175 times more likely today than in a world where humans weren't emitting greenhouse gases. We have loaded the odds against the survival of one of the world's greatest natural wonders,” Dr. Andrew King, lead author and scientist from ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science, said on Friday.

Professor Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, who also leads University of Queensland's Global Change Institute, predicted the death of coral by 2040 way back in 1999. He said that the new research confirms what he predicted so many years back. He was also involved with this new project.

The scientists had to release the paper early as the findings are extremely grave and action needs to be taken right away. Time is of essence here and time is exactly what the reef does not have.

“We are confident in the results because these kind of attribution studies are well established but what we found demands urgent action if we are to preserve the reef,” King said.

He also warned that the death of the Great Barrier Reef corals would put thousands of species at risk of extinction. It will also endanger nearly 69,000 jobs in the fishing and tourism industries.