Great Barrier Reef saw huge losses from 2016 heatwave

One-third of reefs in the world’s largest coral system were transformed by warmed waters, finds comprehensive underwater and aerial survey.

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Extreme heat in 2016 damaged Australia’s Great Barrier Reef much more substantially than initial surveys indicated, according to ongoing studies that have tracked the health of the coral treasure. The heatwave caused massive bleaching of the corals that captured worldwide attention. In a paper published on 18 April in Nature, researchers report that severe bleaching on an unprecedented scale triggered mass death of corals. This drastically changed the species composition of almost one-third of the 3,863 individual reefs that comprise the Great Barrier Reef. The world’s largest coral reef is unlikely to recover soon.

By Quirin Schiermeier, Nature News


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