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Earth Science

Since 2016, Half of All Coral In the Great Barrier Reef Has Died ( 223

A new paper, published Wednesday in the journal Nature, reports that the Great Barrier Reef has lost more than half of its corals since 2016. The authors inspected every one of its reefs, surveying them on an almost species-by-species basis, and found the damage to be widespread across the entire ecosystem. "Two of its most recognizable creatures -- the amber-colored staghorn corals, and the flat, fanlike tabular corals -- suffered the worst casualties," reports The Atlantic. From the report: "On average, across the Great Barrier Reef, one in three corals died in nine months," said Terry Hughes, an author of the paper and the director of the ARC Center of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, the Australian government's federal research program devoted to corals. "You could say [the ecosystem] has collapsed. You could say it has degraded. I wouldn't say that's wrong," Hughes said. "A more neutral way of putting it is that it has transformed into a completely new system that looks differently, and behaves differently, and functions differently, than how it was three years ago."

In the summer months of 2017, warm waters again struck the reef and triggered another bleaching event. This time, the heat hit the reef's middle third. Hughes and his team have not published a peer-reviewed paper on that event, but he shared early survey results with me. Combined, he said, the back-to-back bleaching events killed one in every two corals in the Great Barrier Reef. It is a fact almost beyond comprehension: In the summer of 2015, more than 2 billion corals lived in the Great Barrier Reef. Half of them are now dead. What caused the devastation? Hughes was clear: human-caused global warming. The accumulation of heat-trapping pollution in the atmosphere has raised the world's average temperature, making the oceans hotter and less hospitable to fragile tropical corals.

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Since 2016, Half of All Coral In the Great Barrier Reef Has Died

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  • Major Coal Exporter (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 19, 2018 @11:38PM (#56469183)

    Gets greedy. Blows own foot off.

  • by hcs_$reboot ( 1536101 ) on Thursday April 19, 2018 @11:40PM (#56469189)
    Easy to calculate Coral half-life.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 19, 2018 @11:46PM (#56469215)

      If half dies every two years, it will be around forever. Thanks Zeno!

      • Too bad Zeno couldn't grok that space and time are quantized which is just another way of saying the universe is digital, not analog, at its lowest level.
        i.e. Plank time [], Plank meter []

        • Not this "time is quantised" nonsense again. []
          • Show me ANY physics theory or equations that relies on a time quantum smaller then the Planck second (5.39 x 10^-44s) -- that isn't "magically instantaneous" and that isn't behind a fucking paywall.

            Furthermore, if space was quantized and time not, or vice versa, how would _exactly_ would that work?

            Logically, either both space and time are discrete (as Planck posited), OR both space and time and continuous.

            This is one of the million dollar questions in Physics:

            Q. Does time exist at a smaller quantum then the

        • The point of Zeno's thought experiment (and his others) wasn't to show that time and space were broken, but rather to show that logic (especially the logic they used at the time) was broken. And indeed he was correct, as Godel showed.
      • If half dies every two years, it will be around forever.

        By the same logic: You can never leave your basement.

        (going half the distance to the door will always need a finite amount of time therefore you can never reach it)

  • Okay.

    CAN anything REALISTICALLY be done in a time-frame that would help save ANY of the remainder?

    Because if something CAN, all the whingeing and bitching is wasting time.

    • CAN anything REALISTICALLY be done in a time-frame that would help save ANY of the remainder?

      Slashdot does not exist to provide solutions, but to criticize the proposed ones. You must be new here.

    • CAN anything REALISTICALLY be done in a time-frame that would help save ANY of the remainder?

      There is more at stake than just the coral of the Great Barrier Reef. This is just the foreword of the many extinctions that are to come. There are MANY things we must do to veer off this catastrophic path, the first of which is informing people of what is actually happening. An informed public can elect leaders to change the law so that we actually improve the situation instead of sitting around and claiming everything is fine. []

    • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

      by PopeRatzo ( 965947 )

      CAN anything REALISTICALLY be done in a time-frame that would help save ANY of the remainder?

      Yes. First, we stop digging.

      Because if something CAN, all the whingeing and bitching is wasting time.

      The problem is that the leaders of the worst offending countries don't really give a fuck or are actively trying to make things worse. A surprising number of world leaders seem to be self-absorbed nihilists.

      • Those worst offending countries aren't on this list [] since these countries are already cutting CO2. The worst offending countries were exempted from any action as they quickly and happily agreed in the Paris accords...
  • So sad, too bad (Score:4, Insightful)

    by bigtreeman ( 565428 ) <> on Friday April 20, 2018 @01:18AM (#56469491)

    Glad I went snorkeling on the reef 9 years ago.
    It was a special experience.
    So sad, too bad if you didn't see the reef in all it's glory.
    Man is really good at making lots of living things dead.

  • []

    They mentioned since the 1970s, half the coral over the whole planet has been destroyed. Fucking not cool. One possible hope is that this lady with her team in Hawaii are trying to "speed up evolution" and introduce hardy coral types all over the world. 25% of sea life is around coral reefs... if we lose all of them I'm pretty sure it's going to cause a lot of problems.

    I'll say that 15 years ago I was skeptical about the global warming thing. Then as more and more scientists became more sure, I realized there was absolutely something to it. This episode of Nova shows you tons and tons of evidence of why the majority of scientists seem to have no doubt. The worst thing is that we are now at atmospheric CO2 concentrations that are about double what the highest has ever been in the last 800,000 years as measured by air trapped in 2 mile deep ice in the arctic (or was it antarctic?). CO2 going up so violently quickly and heating going up so violently quickly is the real problem... we don't have a 10,000 years to adapt, we have a decade. Anything without a quick reproduction cycle is going to struggle in some areas. Don't worry, insects don't have this problem so you can bet no matter what we do there will be bugs left to eat our rotting corpses.

    They say it has been estimated how much extra carbon we have put in the atmosphere from fossil fuels, and of that about 25% is absorbed by the ocean and another 25% is absorbed by trees on land. The other 50% is good old greenhouse gassing it up. The majority of the heat is absorbed by oceans too, which for now is keeping the atmosphere from changing as rapidly. Only problem is they predict by the year 2100 we'll have anywhere from 1 to 8 feet of higher ocean levels, which will screw up a lot of places along the coasts.

    The only good news I got from this show was that wind and solar is cheaper than what anybody thought possible at this point in time, and usually cheaper than creating new coal operations. So at least the greedy types won't have more excuses to screw us over even more.

  • by Not-a-Neg ( 743469 ) on Friday April 20, 2018 @09:41AM (#56470801)

    Here is a more informative source: []

    "Dr Reichelt said maps accompanying the research had been misleading, exaggerating the impact. “I don’t know whether it was a deliberate sleight of hand or lack of geographic knowledge but it certainly suits the purpose of the people who sent it out,” he said.

    “This is a frightening enough story with the facts, you don’t need to dress them up. We don’t want to be seen as saying there is no problem out there but we do want people to understand there is a lot of the reef that is unscathed.”

    Dr Reichelt said there had been widespread misinterpretation of how much of the reef had died.

    “We’ve seen headlines stating that 93 per cent of the reef is practically dead,” he said.

    “We’ve also seen reports that 35 per cent, or even 50 per cent, of the entire reef is now gone.

    “However, based on our combined results so far, the overall mortality rate is 22 per cent — and about 85 per cent of that die-off has occurred in the far north between the tip of Cape York and just north of Lizard Island, 250km north of Cairns. Seventy-five per cent of the reef will come out in a few months time as recovered.”"

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      The story you've linked is from 2016. This story is "since 2016."

      Coral bleaching events didn't suddenly end in 2016 and never happen again. The problem is getting worse.

  • Crown of Thorns (Score:2, Insightful)

    by tomhath ( 637240 )

    Before Global Warming was blamed for it, the Crown of Thorns starfish [] was identified as the culprit. It's not clear to me why temperature is now the cause with no mention of the starfish.

    According to research by the Australian Institute of Marine Science, coral cover on surveyed reefs between 1985 and 2012 declined by about 50 per cent over that 27 year period. Crown-of-thorns starfish were responsible for almost half of this decline.

    Research estimates that if crown-of-thorns starfish predation had not occurred over the past three decades, there would have been a net increase in average coral cover.

  • Perhaps it should now be downgraded to "The Good Barrier Reef". Eventually it will inevitably become the "The Fair Barrier Reef" and ultimately "The Poor Barrier Reef".

  • 1) IIRC, the GBR isn't this forever thing. In geologic terms, it's practically ephemeral at 20,000 years. It's not improbable that at some point, it will have lived it's span and then will succumb. We may witness this.

    2) my understanding is that most of the bleaching of the reef *isn't* due to temperature change* but is in fact due to agri runoff and nitrogen blooms. In a test project where this was strongly suppressed, the reef bounced back significantly.

    *let's remember that coral is one of the oldest

    • by barakn ( 641218 )

      The Great Barrier Reef is 18 million years old. If you get this basic number wrong by two orders of magnitude, why should we listen to anything else you have to say?

      • You're right, I was wrong - I OVERestimated its age by a factor of 2.

        "Although coral reefs have been around for over 500 million years, the Great Barrier Reef is relatively young at 500,000 years, and this most modern form is only 8,000 years old, having developed after the last ice age." []

        You, on the other hand, are almost completely fucking ignorant.

  • by Nethead ( 1563 )

    I'm just glad that Arthur C. Clarke is not around to see this.

  • Now, we can assume that the sharks have left as well and send Trump, Pence, W, and Cheney on down there for some R&R and have them swim in the great barrier reef. All safe and what not. Just have to give cheney a shotgun while they are out there.

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