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FEATURES
19 March 2019 8:00

Interactive: Can the Great Barrier Reef survive climate change?

Multiple Authors

03.19.19
FeaturesInteractive: Can the Great Barrier Reef survive climate change?

“The insidious thing about climate change is there’s nowhere to hide from it,” says Prof Terry Hughes, director of the Australian Research Council’s Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University in Townsville, a sleepy city in northern Queensland where even the winter sun beats down at 31C.

Hughes has spent the past three decades tracking changes on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. It was in 1998 that the reef faced its first “mass bleaching event”. Bleaching occurs when some kind of stress – most commonly, unusually high sea temperatures – causes coral to release the colourful algae that lives inside its tissue, leaving it a ghostly white. This algae acts as the primary source of food and, without it, coral slowly starves.

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