Climate Change

Global Coral Bleaching Causing Major Concern for Marine Health

Main image to the post Global Coral Bleaching Causing Major Concern for Marine Health

The state of the world's oceans has raised serious concerns, with nearly two-thirds of coral reefs globally under immense pressure due to abnormal ocean conditions. Derek Manzello from NOAA's Coral Reef Watch Program described the situation as alarming, with a substantial percentage of corals expelling algae and turning ghostly white due to the high levels of heat stress. These abnormal conditions have been linked to record-high water temperatures and acidic ocean environments, leading to a significant threat to the health and survival of marine ecosystems.

The severity of the crisis is evident from the impacts observed in various ocean basins around the world. Last year saw unprecedented marine heat waves affecting most ocean basins, with some regions experiencing heat stress levels so extreme that they surpassed the alert system's capacity. To address the alarming situation, NOAA introduced an updated bleaching alert system, categorizing heat stress severity from 1 to 5, with Level 5 posing a significant risk of coral mortality. This crisis is not limited to specific regions but has global implications, with coral bleaching events documented in over 62 countries and territories since February 2023, affecting reefs in both hemispheres.

The continuous rise in ocean temperatures, particularly in the Atlantic, has exacerbated the situation, with an overwhelming majority of Atlantic coral reefs experiencing bleaching-level heat stress. While bleaching does not immediately kill corals, it weakens them and makes them more susceptible to diseases, posing a long-term threat to marine biodiversity. The ongoing global coral bleaching event has been intensified by both climate change and the natural climate cycle of El Niño, which leads to warmer sea surface temperatures, further aggravating the already stressed coral reefs. NOAA confirmed that the current bleaching event is a global phenomenon, similar to the one that occurred from 2014 to 2017 and impacted over half of the world's coral reefs, highlighting the urgent need for conservation efforts and effective climate change mitigation strategies.

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May 21, 2023 | 05:09