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May 20, 2024
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4th global coral reef bleaching event underway as oceans continue to warm – NOAA

 

As the world’s oceans experience unprecedented rising temperatures, significant coral bleaching has been reported across the globe, according to experts.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reported the fourth global bleaching event on record and the second in the last 10 years.

In a press release on Monday, NOAA CRW coordinator, Derek Manzello, said, “From February 2023 to April 2024, significant coral bleaching has been documented in both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres of each major ocean basin.”

According to the National Ocean Service, warmer ocean temperatures can result in expulsion of algae that live in the coral tissue.This leaves the coral completely white, known as coral bleaching.

Coral bleaching does not necessarily mean corals will die, according to NOAA, which noted that corals can recuperate if the strain on their ecosystems is reduced.

According to the Australian Institute of Marine Science, storms, disease, sediments and changes in salinity can cause corals to bleach at a local level, however, mass bleaching, when several varieties of coral reefs are bleached, is largely caused by increased sea temperatures.

In March, the average global sea surface temperature reached a record 69.93 degrees Fahrenheit, according to the Copernicus Climate Change Service.

According to the NOAA report, since early 2023, mass bleaching of coral reefs has been confirmed in the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans, basins including parts of Florida and the U.S. Coastline, the Caribbean, Central America, South America, Australia, the South Pacific, the Persian Gulf, coasts of East Africa, as well as Indonesia.

Manzello said, “As the world’s oceans continue to warm, coral bleaching is becoming more frequent and severe, when these events are sufficiently severe or prolonged, they can cause coral mortality, which hurts the people who depend on the coral reefs for their livelihoods.”

In 2019, NOAA and the National Academies of Sciences published the study Interventions to Increase the Resilience of Coral Reefs, which provided “resilience-based management practices” and heightened the importance of coral restoration.

Director of NOAA’s Coral Reef Conservation Program (CRCP), Jennifer Koss, said in the release, “We are on the frontlines of coral reef research, management and restoration, and are actively and aggressively implementing the recommendations of the 2019 Interventions Report.”

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