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OMINOUS OUTLOOK FOR THE REEF: Hot conditions forecast for this summer increase the chance of further mass coral bleaching events.

Climate Media Centre 3 mins read

The Great Barrier Reef has experienced six mass coral bleaching events — in 2022, 2020, 2017, 2016, 2002 and 1998. Reef scientists are currently reporting water temps up to 4 degrees above average in places for this time of year. The forecast for this coming summer is low cloud cover, higher temps and increased chances of marine heatwaves, with experts concerned that mass coral bleaching events will occur, driving hard coral species closer to extinction.

 

(Fairfax article for reference here)

 

Images of 2022 mass coral bleaching from Stanley Reef, near Townsville, are available HERE and underwater and drone footage HERE. (Credit: Australian Marine Conservation Society / Climate Council / Grumpy Turtle Films)

 

We have a selection of reef experts that are available for interview: 

 

Professor Lesley Hughes, climate councillor and distinguished professor of biology at Macquarie University:

Location: Sydney, NSW

 

"We need urgent action to give our Reef a fighting chance, starting with a rapid phase-out of all coal, oil, and gas projects." 

 

“It is important we remember that the Reef can be restored, but it needs a break from severe back-to-back bleaching events, and the only way to do that is to rapidly reduce our greenhouse gas emissions.” 

 

“To stay well below 2 degrees Celsius, and to give the Reef its best chance of survival, the Climate Council recommends Australia cut its emissions by 75 percent by 2030 (based on 2005 levels) and reach net zero by 2035, doing its fair share of global action.”

 

Dr Simon Bradshaw, Climate Council Director of Research said:

Location: Sydney, NSW

 

“There’s absolutely no question that the Great Barrier Reef – and indeed all tropical coral reefs worldwide – are in grave danger. Our focus must be on how to limit future harms as much as possible.

 

“We are now living with the consequences of our past inaction, of failing to move more quickly beyond coal, oil and gas, and of decades of ignoring the stark warnings about the perils of climate change to our Reef and to all ecosystems on which we depend for our livelihoods, security and wellbeing.

 

“Strong and determined action this decade will be the difference between giving our precious Great Barrier Reef and everything that depends on it a fighting chance and watching it disappear. Every tonne of carbon left in the ground and every fraction of a degree of avoided warming is an investment in the future of our Reef.” 

 

 

Also available for interview (CMC Spokespeople):

 

Professor Jodie Rummer, marine biologist at James Cook University. Jodie can talk about how to address issues important to conservation, including the effects of climate change on coral reef fishes, sharks, and rays. Location: Townsville, QLD

 

Tony Fontes, veteran Great Barrier Reef dive operator, who was invited to meet the 2012 UN reef monitoring mission. Can talk about the local tourism industry, about his 40-plus years’ experience diving the Great Barrier Reef, and first-hand account of climate impacts on the natural wonder. Location: Whitsundays, QLD - available after 12pm

 

A/Prof Scott Heron, physical scientist at James Cook University. Expert knowledge on how the World Heritage Committee assesses the climate vulnerability of world heritage sites.  This involves working with the UNESCO World Heritage Centre and its advisory bodies. He can also talk about the impacts of heat on the marine ecosystem – including coral bleaching and disease, reef resilience and conservation management, within the context of climate change.   

Location: Townsville, QLD

 

Dr Dean Miller, Director of Great Barrier Reef Legacy, a not-for-profit created to address the urgent need to secure the long-term survival of the Great Barrier Reef. Dean the current state of the reef as he is currently on an active research mission, he can talk about coral reef management and the impact of three mass bleaching events in five years. 

Location: Cairns/Port Douglas, QLD

 

MEDIA CONTACTS:

CLIMATE COUNCIL SPOKESPEOPLE (Prof Lesley Hughes & Dr Simon Bradshaw)

George Hyde: 0431 330 919 - george.hyde@climatecouncil.org.au

CMC SPOKESPEOPLE:

Sean Kennedy: 0447 121 378 - sean.kennedy@climatemediacentre.org.au

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