Even the areas that survived will not recover to full health, scientists from ARC Centre of Excellence for Integrated Coral ReefStudiessaid in a report, as unseasonable hot water becomes more frequent causing more incidents of bleaching.
UQ School of Biological Sciences researcher Professor John Pandolfi said scientists from UQ and other institutions would compare the extent of coral bleaching damage that had occurred this summer with that of last summer.
"This is the first time the Great Barrier Reef has not had a few years between bleaching events to recover".
The study shows that older ways of thinking about reef management, such as reducing river runoff, are now moot points when it comes to preventing bleaching, said Kim Cobb, a climate scientist and coral researcher at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta.
Extensive stand of severely bleached coral at Lisianski Island in the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument in Hawaii, documented during an August 2014 NOAA research mission. Coral bleaching occurs as a result of abnormal sea conditions, such as warmer or colder temperatures.
Limiting climate change is the best chance for the survival of Queensland's Great Barrier Reef, according to a new study. Average global ocean temperatures have gone up by around 1.5 degrees Fahrenheit since the late 19th century. In the 1998 and 2002 events, less than 10 percent of the Great Barrier Reef was subject to "extreme bleaching". "Sadly, we found no evidence that past bleaching makes the corals any tougher", he said. Bleached corals can recover if the temperature drops and zooxanthellae are able to recolonise them, otherwise the coral may die. It has already degraded large tracts of the Great Barrier Reef over the past two decades.
Repeated damage to the Great Barrier Reef may also see UNESCO's World Heritage Committee reconsider its decision in 2015 not to put the Great Barrier Reef on its "in danger" list. "In the north, I saw hundreds of reefs - literally two-thirds of the reefs were dying and are now dead", said Dr. Hughes.
The Great Barrier Reef, much like the major USA reef located off the Florida Keys, is carefully protected by governments and individuals who try to preserve the quality of the water in the area and to defend the corals themselves from tourists and fishing activities. Hence the name coral bleaching to describe such episodes.
A study of Australia's Great Barrier Reef shows that the only way to save the world's coral from heat-induced bleaching is with a war on global warming.
Interestingly, Hughes claimed that climate change is not a threat to the Great Barrier Reef since this has been happening for last 18 years now.
Ensuring a future for coral reefs, researchers added, will require "immediate" global action.
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