The 1,500 mile-long Great Barrier Reef is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and supports a wide variety of marine life. However, due to ocean heat waves, it is losing its inbuilt ability to recover from “bleaching” events that have affected the corals. The reef faced the brunt of abnormal water temperatures over the last two decades with an increase in intensity during 2016 and 2017. If this is not checked, it could set in motion a major ecological imbalance.

CNN reports about the study. It examined a range of adult corals that survived the recent heat waves and the number of new corals created.

The result revealed a bleak future for the reef. As Terry Hughes, the study's lead author, said - "Dead corals don't make babies." The study says corals located in the south survived the bleaching because the water was cooler but that does not help much. They are too far away to influence seeding in the northern regions.

Impact of global warming on corals

The Great Barrier Reef of Australia is unique because it is not only the world's largest reef system but also the only living organism visible from outer space.

Corals suffer damage due to environmental issues attributable to climate change. This could become a factor responsible for the collapse of the whole ecosystem and in time, people may have to face the fact the Great Barrier Reef is dying and that global warming could be real.

In the opinion of scientists associated with the report, the situation could recover over the next five to 10 years provided there is no further bleaching event.

CNN goes on to add that in order to achieve such a state, sea temperatures must be stable and there's a need for positive action. Global warming increases the temperatures which have a direct bearing on the healing power of corals. Obviously, to retrieve the situation there must be a concerted effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, which is the main source of global heating.

It is necessary to realize the magnitude of the problem because coral reefs support a wide range of marine species and their absence will lead to an ecological crisis.

Coral bleaching could severely impact biodiversity

According to New Scientist, scientists from universities in Australia and the UK undertook the study on the destruction of the Great Barrier Reef due to coral bleaching. They concluded that global warming was a major factor for this and said that it would result in a loss of biodiversity by changing the species that live there. In the opinion of the team, complete recovery from mass bleaching may not happen. They observed that the gap between such events has reduced over a period.

In other words, the frequency has increased which is an unwanted trend. They also note that bleaching events have links to the El Niño climate phenomenon, but in 2017, it took place even without El Niño.