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A.millepora in the Great Barrier Reef. Petra Lundgren, Juan C Vera, Lesa Peplow, Stephanie Manel and Madeleine JH van Oppen

Hope for Great Barrier Reef? New Study Shows Genetic Diversity of Coral Could Extend Our Chance to Save It

A study published Wednesday had some frightening news for the Great Barrier Reef—the iconic marine ecosystem is at "unprecedented" risk of collapse due to climate change after a 2016 heat wave led to the largest mass coral bleaching event in the reef's history.

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A turtle swims over the bleached coral at Heron Island on the Great Barrier Reef in February 2016. The Ocean Agency / XL Catlin Seaview Survey / Richard Vevers

Great Barrier Reef at ‘Unprecedented’ Risk of Collapse After Major Bleaching Event

By Daisy Dunne

The record-breaking marine heatwave in 2016 across the Great Barrier Reef has left much of the coral ecosystem at an "unprecedented" risk of collapse, research shows.

A new study published in Nature finds that the surge in sea temperatures during the 2016 bleaching event led to an immediate and long-lasting die-off of coral.

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Animals

Scientists Battle Mysterious Pathogen Destroying Coral Reefs Off Florida Coast

By Robynne Boyd

Off the coast of Broward County in southeast Florida, a 330-year-old coral colony has withered in the water thanks to a mysterious pathogen. At the height of its health, this slow-growing variety of coral, known as mountainous star, looked like a car-size brown mushroom cap scored by ridges and valleys and colored with splashes of fluorescent green. Today the countless minuscule sea-anemone-like polyps that form the colony have turned white and died, laying bare the skeletal structure below.

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Climate
Coral bleaching at Heron Island. Ocean Agency / XL Catlin Seaview Survey / Richard Vevers

2017 Was the Hottest Year on Record for Oceans

Last year wasn't just one of the hottest years on Earth's surface, as it was the hottest year on record for the global ocean, according to a new study from the Institute of Atmospheric Physics (IAP)/Chinese Academy of Science.

Researchers Lijing Cheng and Jiang Zhu found that the top 2,000 meters of ocean waters are hotter than ever recorded, at 19.19 × 10^22 J. Heat energy is measured in Joules (J).

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Popular
Divers at work in the Coral Restoration Foundation Coral Tree Nursery. Alice Grainger / Coral Restoration Foundation

It’s Time to Raise the Reefs

By Coral Restoration Foundation

With today's resources and knowledge, it is possible to bring coral reefs back to a healthy state. But we need to do it soon, and we need to do it fast. And what better time to do it than in 2018, the International Year of the Reef?

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Coral bleaching survey, Orpheus Island 2017. Greg Torda / ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies

Severe Coral Reef Bleaching Now ‘Five Times More Frequent’ Than 40 Years Ago

By Daisy Dunne

The scale of bleaching has been rising steadily in the last four decades, a study author told Carbon Brief, with the global proportion of coral being hit by bleaching per year rising from 8 percent in the 1980s to 31 percent in 2016.

The findings indicate that "coral reefs as we know them may well vanish in the lifetime of the youngest of us" if no efforts are made to rapidly curb climate change, another scientist told Carbon Brief.

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Great Barrier Reef. Lock the Gate Alliance / Flickr

Could the Great Barrier Reef Heal Itself? New Study Offers Cautious Hope

Australia's Great Barrier Reef may be able to heal itself from bleaching events, starfish and other disturbances with the help of a group of "source" reefs, according to recent research.

The study, conducted by researchers from the University of Queensland, CSIRO, Australian Institute of Marine Science and the University of Sheffield, found that three percent of the coral reefs in the Great Barrier Reef are "robust source reefs." In order to meet the criteria of a "source reef," the reefs need to be well-connected to other reefs through shifting currents but also be able to sustain bleaching events and be less susceptible to crown-of-thorn starfish outbreaks.

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Coral growth near Aqaba, Jordan. kaetidh / Flickr

Northern Red Sea Could Be Unique Global Warming Refuge for Coral

Lying at the northern tip of the Red Sea, the Gulf of Aqaba might be able sustain its coral population for another 100 to 150 years, despite global warming, new research predicts.

Scientists from the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST), the University of Essex and Al-Azhar University believe that a stretch of nearly 1,120 miles could become one of the few—and one of the largest—refuges for coral.

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Climate
Schooling fairy basslets, Great Barrier Reef. GreensMPs / Flickr

62 Natural Wonders of the World at Risk From Climate Change

By Joe McCarthy

The marshy expanses of the Everglades in Southern Florida contain hundreds of species of animals, including flamingos, alligators and manatees. Clusters of mangroves span its coastline, acting as ecosystem hubs, and if you take a boat through the region, you'll see countless plants that are native to the area.

But the Everglades, which have been around for more than 5,000 years, are collapsing, as saltwater intrudes from rising sea levels, pollution seeps from surrounding industries, invasive species kill off native species, bad water management techniques dry parts of the wetland, and climate change intensifies.

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