Australia is blessed with having one of the seven natural wonders in the world within its waters, The Great Barrier Reef. It is the world’s largest coral reef, is rich in marine life and consists of at least 3000 separate reef systems. The great barrier reef has grown to become one of the most desired tourist attractions (greatbarrierreeforg, n.
d). But recent studies prove that with heat waves, the coral is dying off (ARC, 2018). The lands and oceans are warmer than ever, and still rising in temperature. Records kept since 1880 show the globe is heating up, this rise in temperature is called global warming (Pappas, 2017). The difference in average surface temperature between 1880 and 2016 is almost +1 degrees Celsius, and the speed of this change is rising 0.07 degrees each decade, with the land warming even faster than the ocean cover (Pappas, 2017). Global warming occurs faster in certain parts of the world (Ward, 2001). DiscussionOther planets in our solar system are extremely hot or freezing, but earth is moderate and can appreciate both temperatures because of its atmosphere (Lallanila, 2018).
The combustion of fossil fuels is the current cause of global warming. The hydrogen and carbon are heating up our globe through the Greenhouse effect, an effect caused via interaction of the atmosphere and radiation entering from the sun (Pappas, 2017). If coral is affected by a heatwave, its colour will fade and it’s left with two outcomes, it will either survive and slowly regain its colour as the temperature drops, or it dies. In just nine months of 2016, 30% of coral died from the Great Barrier Reef from heat (Hughes, 2018).
The northern third of the reef was found to be the most extremely affected (shown in figure 1) after scientists graphed the geographical pattern of heat exposure (Hughes, 2018). “We’re now at a point where we’ve lost close to half of the corals in shallow-water habitats across the northern two-thirds of the Great Barrier Reef due to back-to-back bleaching over two consecutive years.” stated Prof Sean Connolly of Coral CoE at James Cook University (.Figure 2 indicates just how much the climate has changed since 1900 up until 2016.
The graph shows the surface temperature of the reef. and in a century, the average temperature in March has shifted from a low of -1.7 degrees Celsius to almost +2.0 degrees Celsius. It also indicates that the temperature is still increasing dramatically. The Great Barrier Reef Marine Authority estimates that there are the following numbers of species that depend on the Great Barrier Reef ecosystem: • 1625 species of fish, • 215 species of birds• 6 of the 7 marine turtles are found here • 133 species of sharks and rays • 30 species of whales and dolphins (N.D) The reason there is so much marine life in this area is because it provides them with habitats and shelter and provides nitrogen and other essential nutrients for marine food chains (Queensland museum, n.
d). But, animals such as the Green Turtle and the Hawksbill Turtle are being impacted by this major issue of coral bleaching as both species, along with many more rely on living, feeding and nesting on the reef (WWF, 2018). The great barrier reef being one of our greatest gifts from nature and tourist attractions, is collecting over 1.5 billion dollars every year for the Australian economy (Queensland Museum, n.
d). If it is destroyed, Australia will lose one of its greatest natural phenomena (WWF, 2018). Conclusion Global warming is having an overall impact on many things in Australia but certainly on our Great Barrier Reef and everything it brings. If we don’t do anything about it, by 2030 it is estimated that sea surface temperatures will rise by 0.6-0.9 ºC in the southern Tasman Sea and off the Northwest Bank of Western Australia, and 0.
3-0.6 ºC in other places (WWF, 2018). In order to reduce coral bleaching in the future, Australia must switch faster to environmental friendly energy- such as solar and wind. We must reduce the speed of the warming of our oceans and have a goal that we have 100% renewable energy by 2035 and conclude any fossil fuel allowance (WWF, 2018).