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AUS - Cooling La Niña May Not Save Great Barrier Reef From Mass Coral Bleaching, Experts Warn

With the world 1C warmer, modelling shows there is still a risk of corals bleaching from heat stress this summer

A global weather phenomenon that would typically keep ocean temperatures lower across the Great Barrier Reef may not be enough to stop another mass coral bleaching this coming summer, according to the marine park’s chief scientist.

Global heating now meant the risk of corals bleaching from heat stress was present even in a summer influenced by the La Niña climate phenomenon, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority’s Dr David Wachenfeld told Guardian Australia.

On Thursday the authority revealed this summer’s outlook for the world’s biggest coral reef system that has been hit by three mass bleaching events in the past five years. Clouds, rain and cyclones could still combine to keep temperatures along the reef low enough to avoid another bleaching event.

But modelling from the US government’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Noaa) and Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology were in agreement that December and January would probably see ocean temperatures over the reef about 1C warmer than average.

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