The Great Barrier Reef is on its last legs and here's why that should terrify you

Bridie Pearson-Jones
Friday 02 June 2017 14:30
Picture:(WILLIAM WEST/AFP/Getty Images)

Hot of the heels of Trump pulling out of the Paris Agreement deal, we have some more bad news. The Great Barrier Reef is dead (or at least it will be soon).

Last summer saw record high temperatures in the water surrounding the Great Barrier Reef. This lead much of the coral getting bleached, overcooked, diseased and dying off.

These levels weren't expected to be seen until the 2050s.

According to a new study published in Nature Climate Change this is going to be a regular occurrence pretty soon.

Unfortunately, even the most optimistic scenarios predict this - which will lead to a hotter, less bio-diverse Australia. According to the paper, there's an 87 per cent chance that the Great Barrier Reef will hit these temperatures every year, even if all the countries stick to the Paris agreement arrangement of keeping global temperatures from rising more than 1.5 degrees above preindustrial levels.

Andrew King, one of the authors of the study said

At two degrees Celsius of warming, last year’s event would actually be a bit cooler than average.

This poses a major problem for the survival of most of the Great Barrier Reef.

Speaking to the Atlantic, Ruth Gates, a coral biologist at the University of Hawaii and the president of the International Society for Reef Studies said:

By the time we’re seeing bleaching temperatures there every year, there probably will not be a reef anymore. There’s only five or six times bleaching can happen before a reef is essentially dead.

Adding that each time a coral bleaches "You will lose a portion of the reef each time, and there comes a point where it’s no longer functionally a reef. ”

The Great Barrier Reed a World Heritage listed site, and one of the world's most sought after tourist destinations. It's estimated to inject $5 billion (£2.87 billion) into the Australian economy every year. It's compromised over over 3,000 individual reef systems and hundreds of tropical islands.

More: The first thing Donald Trump did the day after he axed the Paris climate deal is disgusting