The Climate Council

Published date April 12, 2017

Climate Change: A Deadly Threat to Coral Reefs

  • The longest global coral bleaching event on record, ongoing since 2014, has led to widespread bleaching and mortality of reefs as pools of unusually warm water move around the globe.
  • Last year the Great Barrier Reef experienced its worst bleaching event ever. The pristine reefs in the north (Port Douglas to Papua New Guinea) were the most badly affected, with mortality of two-thirds of coral in this region.
  • While the El Niño has waned, bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef appeared again in 2017, fuelled by climate change.
  • Rising sea surface temperatures, driven by climate change, are increasing the frequency and severity of mass coral bleaching events and reducing the opportunities for corals to recover.
  • It was virtually impossible for the extreme ocean temperatures that led to coral bleaching along the Great Barrier Reef in 2016 to have occurred without climate change.