Reef escapes bleaching, but urgent action required

The Great Barrier Reef has narrowly escaped a follow on mass bleaching event in 2019, with surface temperatures remaining 1°C above average, according to the findings of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA)

In his opening statement to the Senate Estimates earlier last week, the authority’s CEO Josh Thomas said that the reef narrowly escaped further bleaching due to the cooling impacts of multiple cyclones and monsoonal events.

"Following the recent flood event in north Queensland, initial assessments indicate there are no significant impacts to the inshore reefs of the central Great Barrier Reef. There have been reports of patchy, localised freshwater coral bleaching and some mortality, in various locations,” Mr Thomas said.

The delivery of the statement by Mr Thomas comes after reports emerged that the Authority has prepared a climate change position statement that urges action to limit temperature increases to below the 1.5°C threshold of the Paris Climate agreement.

The document, currently unavailable to the public, concludes that on current trends, the reef could experience catastrophic bleaching events at least twice per decade between 2020 and 2050.

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