The Great Barrier Reef
The Great Barrier Reef

Corals on Australia's iconic Great Barrier Reef experienced a catastrophic die-off following the extended marine heatwave of 2016, say scientists at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies (Coral CoE) in Australia who mapped the geographical pattern of heat exposure from satellites.

They measured coral survival along the 2,300-kilometre length of the Great Barrier Reef, the world's largest reef system, following the extreme marine heatwave of 2016. The amount of coral death the researchers measured was closely linked to the amount of bleaching and level of heat exposure, with the northern third of the Great Barrier Reef being the most severely affected.

These findings reinforce the need for assessing the risk of a wide-scale collapse of reef ecosystems, especially if global action on climate change fails to limit warming to 1.5 to 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. 

Coral reefs are important for many different reasons aside from supposedly containing the most diverse ecosystems on the planet. They: protect coastlines from the damaging effects of wave action and tropical storms; provide habitats and shelter for many marine organisms; are the source of nitrogen and other essential nutrients for marine food chains; assist in carbon and nitrogen fixing; and help with nutrient recycling, according to 

One of Australia’s most remarkable natural gifts, the Great Barrier Reef is blessed with the breathtaking beauty of the world’s largest coral reef. The reef contains an abundance of marine life and comprises of over 3000 individual reef systems and coral cays and literally hundreds of picturesque tropical islands with some of the worlds most beautiful sun-soaked, golden beaches.

The Great Barrier Reef is one of the seven wonders of the natural world, and pulling away from it, and viewing it from a greater distance, you can understand why. It is larger than the Great Wall of China and the only living thing on earth visible from space, writes