Great Barrier Reef: plan to improve water quality ignores scientific advice
Great Barrier Reef: plan to improve water quality ignores scientific advice.
Australia’s draft plan to improve water quality on the Great Barrier Reef has ignored official government scientific advice, which was published by the Queensland and federal governments alongside the new plan this week.
That is despite the plan itself acknowledging that “current initiatives will not meet water quality targets”, noting the “urgently needed” acceleration of efforts and explicitly stating that “a step change is needed”.
The plan repeatedly says it is “based on the best available independent scientific advice, as provided by scientific consensus statement 2017”.
The plan points to $2bn being spent over 10 years by the Queensland and federal governments to protect the reef.
That is about one-tenth of what a Queensland government taskforce concluded was needed, a figure they said would still not allow the targets to be met.
“The issue we have now is the coral is in terminal condition and the best we can hope for is to protect some parts of the coral on the Great Barrier Reef,” Brodie said.
“We’re still spending a lot of money but we’re not achieving enough to provide resilience to the whole Great Barrier Reef, perhaps we could better spend it on providing resilience for just some of the coral.” The world heritage committee flagged its concern over reef water quality at its annual meeting in July, saying “the plan will need to accelerate to ensure that the intermediate and long-term targets of 2050 LTSP are being met, in particular regarding water quality”.
“There is no meaningful detail on the actions and investment needed to deliver promised cuts to reef pollution,” he said.
“This new plan has an expanded scope and addresses all land-based sources of water pollution including run-off from urban, industrial and public lands, as well as from agricultural activities.” The Queensland minister for the environment, Steven Miles, said the plan recognised the importance of people in creating change and included social, cultural and economic values for the first time.
Heat on for Australia’s Great Barrier Reef when global temperatures hit 1.5C
Heat on for Australia’s Great Barrier Reef when global temperatures hit 1.5C.
These findings from University of Melbourne Scientists at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science, reported in Nature Climate Change, are the result of research looking at how Australian extremes in heat, drought, precipitation and ocean warming will change in a world 1.5°C and 2°C warmer than pre-industrial conditions.
There was no event where the Coral Sea was as warm as we saw in 2016 but as the globe warms these events will grow in number."
The researchers also looked at other extreme events, like the southeast Australian drought of 2006 and the rain events that led to widespread flooding in Queensland in 2010, to see whether they would occur more often as global temperatures increased.
The results came after modelling thousands of years under four different scenarios — pre-industrial conditions, current conditions, the world at 1.5°C and at 2°C — on supercomputers at National Computational Infrastructure.
The researchers then looked at four key extreme Australian events — the Angry Summer 2012/13; the Coral Sea marine heatwave of 2016; the severe rain event in Queensland in 2010; and the 2006 drought in southeast Australia — to model how often similar events could occur under each scenario.
"It quickly became clear that keeping global temperatures under 1.5°C had a clear benefit for Australia in terms of reducing extreme events and the costs that come with them," Dr King said.
Sea temperatures of the scale and frequency we have seen do not bode well for the future of one of our greatest natural wonders."
Story Source: Materials provided by University of New South Wales.
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Now may be your last chance to see the Great Barrier Reef
Now may be your last chance to see the Great Barrier Reef.
For the first time, the bleaching event immediately followed another the year before—which was the bleaching ever recorded on the reef.
Bleached corals are not necessarily dead, but the one-two punch of consecutive bleaching events all but seals a deathly fate for large swaths of the reef.
Hughes and his team conducted the aerial survey that confirmed both 2016 and 2017 bleaching events.
Rising sea temperatures driven by global warming are primarily to blame for the widespread and rapid degradation of the reef.
Four mass bleaching events in the Great Barrier Reef have now occurred since just 1998; none had ever been recorded before that year.
Corals bleach when the water warms to a temperature above what they can tolerate.
If the warm temperatures persist, the chance of recovery goes down.
And to have a greater chance at recovery, bleached reef must be connected with healthy reef, so the reef can repopulate with new coral polyps.
Jon Brodie, a scientist who has on water quality issues affecting reefs, told the Guardian the Great Barrier Reef is now in a “terminal stage.” “We’ve given up.