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Major coral bleaching event in 2016 at Great Barrier Reef in Australia. Oregon State University/ Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

Great Barrier Reef in Danger of Mass Coral Bleaching Events Every Two Years

The Great Barrier Reef—Australia's remarkable but imperiled natural wonder—is under risk of repeat coral bleaching events unless greenhouse gas emissions are slashed, Australia's Climate Council warned Thursday.

The new report, Lethal Consequences: Climate Change Impacts on the Great Barrier Reef, determined that by 2034, the extreme ocean temperatures that led to the mass bleaching events of 2016 and 2017 may occur every two years if emissions continue on current trends.

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Northern Great Barrier Reef, October 2016. Greg Torda / ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies

Australia's $379M Plan to Save Great Barrier Reef Raises Skepticism

The Australian government announced Sunday its largest investment in the Great Barrier Reef to date. More than $500 million Australian dollars (US $379 million) will go towards helping the highly vulnerable site that's under threat from climate change.

However, some have criticized the move as a "band-aid plan" as the fossil fuel-friendly government promotes the building of new coal mines, which fuels global warming that harms the reef.

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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
Christine Hof / WWF-Aus

Great Barrier Reef: 99% of These Sea Turtles Are Turning Female

A new study reveals increasing temperatures are turning green turtle populations almost completely female in the northern Great Barrier Reef (GBR).

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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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Neighborhood homes destroyed in the Thomas Fire burning in the Ventura area of California. KTLA / Twitter

Our Favorite Environmental Journalism of 2017

By Joe Sandler Clarke and Unearthed reporters

From the finest American journalism chronicling the worst excesses of the Trump administration to international stories showing the impact of climate change on the developing world, here are the stories we wish we had written this year.

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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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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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