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A NASA worldview image showing runoff from Queensland, Australia floods heading towards the Great Barrier Reef. NASA

Muddy water from historic flooding in Queensland, Australia is now flowing out of rivers into the sea, threatening even the outer shelves of the Great Barrier Reef some 60 kilometers (approximately 37.3 miles) from the coast, Australia's ABC News reported Friday.

Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) water quality team leader Dr. Frederieke Kroon told ABC News that the runoff covered "an extraordinarily large area." Researchers said it is likely filled with nitrogen pollution and pesticides, and poses a risk to the health of a reef already damaged by back-to-back coral bleaching events in 2016 and 2017.

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Aerial view of the Great Barrier Reef, a unique coral formation in Queensland, Australia. Marco Brivio / Photographer's Choice / Getty Images

By Marlene Cimons

The climate is changing faster than many species can adapt, so scientists are trying to speed up evolution by fostering the spread of creatures who can take the heat. Think of it as natural selection with a little boost from humans—or, in some cases, robots.

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Researchers found that the response of corals to heat stress during the second of two unprecedentedback-to-back bleaching events on the Great Barrier Reef was markedly different from the first. Tane Sinclair-Taylor

The Great Barrier Reef has been hit hard by climate change. As waters warm, the higher ocean temperatures force the coral to expel the algae that lives inside of it, providing it with both its nutrients and its brilliant colors. If the water does not cool fast enough and the algae does not return, the coral dies.

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Australia's Great Barrier Reef. Steve Parish/ Lock the Gate Alliance / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Australian scientists have found the "most diverse coral site" on the Great Barrier Reef, observing at least 195 different species of corals in space no longer than 500 meters, The Guardian reported.

The non-profit organization Great Barrier Reef Legacy and marine scientist Charlie Veron, a world expert on coral reefs, confirmed the diversity of the site, also known as the "Legacy Super Site" on the outer reef.

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Bleached staghorn coral in the Great Barrier Reef. Matt Kieffer / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

For any nature lover, one of the most sobering pieces of information from this month's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report was that global warming of just two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels could kill off 99 percent of tropical coral reefs. And even if we act quickly and successfully limit warming to 1.5 degrees, 70 to 90 percent of these invaluable ecosystems will still be lost.

Now, an alarming forecast from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) shows that process could begin as early as this Australian summer in one of the most iconic reefs of all: the Great Barrier Reef.

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The Hazelwood Power Station, which closed last year, in Victoria, Australia. Wikimedia Commons

Australia's coal-loving lawmakers dismissed the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's (IPCC) warning to phase out the polluting fossil fuel by 2050.

In a recent interview with SkyNews, deputy prime minister Michael McCormack said Australia will "absolutely" continue to use and exploit its coal reserves regardless of what the IPCC report says.

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