In 2014, coral reefs around the world turned a pallid white from heat stress. The bleaching began in the Pacific and rapidly spread across the Indian and Atlantic oceans. The so-called Third Global Bleaching Event lasted for 36 months, marking the longest, most pervasive and destructive coral bleaching incident ever recorded.
Though over now, the world’s reefs remain in hot water.
A new United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) report says worldwide mass bleaching events, like the one that began in 2014, could become the norm in the coming decades. The report’s updated climate models demonstrate that coral bleaching is happening faster than anticipated and the future health of the world’s reefs is inextricably tied to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Time is of the essence for marine species, human livelihoods and the still unknown treasures in our vastly unexplored oceans, the report said.
“The sad part is that the projections are even more dire than before,” says the report’s lead author, Ruben van Hooidonk,
a coral researcher with America’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Cooperative Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Studies. “It means we really need to try to reduce our carbon emissions to save these reefs. Read more…