The coral reefs are all over the world are dying due to mass bleaching, a phenomenon closely associated with climate change. Over the last few years, mass coral bleaching events started becoming more frequent.
A recent paper claims that because of this, the hopes for recovery are fading. Although experts are trying to save coral reefs, climate change might have a more powerful effect than initially expected.
Mass Coral Bleaching and Its Effects
Coral reefs are still fragile ecosystems that are now running out of time. The latest paper, which was published in the journal Science, shows that the rate of mass coral bleaching is increasing compared to the amount of recovering corals.
Because these events are happening more frequently, the reefs don’t have the time needed to recover before another mass coral bleaching strikes them again.
A team of specialists monitored the rate of coral bleaching over the past four decades. They found that such events are happening more often now than they used to some ten years ago. Usually, severe mass bleaching events occurred every 30 years back in the 1980s. In comparison, after 2010, these happen once every 5 to 6 years.
Researchers mentioned that mass bleachings could hit once every year if the global temperatures continue increasing. The mass coral bleaching is not only dangerous for the corals but also for the marine animals that live there.
Once the animals remain without their habitat, they could die within days or weeks. In 2016, the mass bleaching event at the Great Barrier Reef killed 2/3 of it. Another event like this occurred in 2017 and shocked scientists.
If ocean temperatures were to return to normal and there is enough time for the corals to regain their health, some corals could recover.
Unfortunately, this can take up to 15 years even for the species that recover the fastest. This best-case scenario is unlikely to happen anytime soon if the current global warming trends continue.
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