A United Nations (UN) delegation is currently visiting the Great Barrier Reef to assess its health and decide whether the reef should be added to the ‘World Heritage In Danger’ list. The mission is set to go for 10 days.
Last year, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) recommended putting the reef on the list.
It comes amid reports that the reef is currently experiencing a widespread coral bleaching event.
On Monday, a new report found the Great Barrier Reef could face bleaching events every two years by 2034, and every year by 2044, if climate change continues “unabated”.
The report by the Climate Council warned: “Cutting global emissions by at least 50% this decade is key to the survival of Australia’s ocean wonders.”
Bleaching occurs when corals come under stress from changes such as an increase in temperature, causing the corals to expel the algae that lives in their tissue. The corals then turn into a white colour.
Experts say a key factor to more frequent coral bleaching is climate change.
The Great Barrier Reef has previously faced substantial bleaching in 1998, 2002, 2016, 2017 and 2020.
The report noted that over the last year “excess heat absorbed by the ocean was equivalent to seven Hiroshima atomic bombs detonating every second”.
Coral Bleaching Event
Last week, another bleaching event was recorded across the Great Barrier Reef, with the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) confirming that bleaching in central parts of the reef is “severe”. Dead coral has already been recorded during aerial surveys, with the worst bleaching in the Townsville area so far.
GBRMPA Chief Scientist David Wachenfeld said the affected areas could recover if sea surface temperature levels are brought down.