Friday, March 25, 2016

Michael Slezak - Great Barrier Reef: aerial survey reveals extent of coral bleaching

An aerial survey is revealing the worst bleaching ever seen on northern parts of the Great Barrier Reef, as the scientist leading the survey live-tweets the devastation and pleads for the world to take action on climate change.

Last week Terry Hughes, a professor at James Cook University and convener of the National Coral Bleaching Taskforce, told Guardian Australia he planned to hire a charter plane and map the bleaching to see how bad it was.

They would start from Cairns and fly north, he said. “We’ll expand that initial aerial survey to crisscross the whole northern region and map it all out.” Now, using both planes and helicopters, Hughes has found what he says is the worst bleaching in the region he has ever seen.

On Tuesday, Hughes said he surveyed 600km of reef and found that more than 60% of it had been bleached. That was just two days after the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority raised the threat level of coral bleaching to the highest possible alert, “level 3” , indicating “severe regional bleaching” in the northernmost quarter of the 344,400 sq km marine park.

On Wednesday Hughes upgraded to a helicopter and continued the survey... read more: