The Great Barrier Reef is suffering widespread and severe coral bleaching two years after a huge bleaching incident, according to an Australian government body.

(AP) CANBERRA, Australia — High water temperatures are causing widespread and severe coral bleaching on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, a government body reported on Friday, two years after a huge bleaching episode.
The assessment from the Great Barrier Reef Marine Authority, which oversees the world’s largest coral reef ecosystem, comes only three days before a UN mission is set to review whether the reef’s World Heritage status should be lowered owing to climate change’s effects.
“The total extent and severity of coral bleaching in the Marine Park will be determined by weather patterns over the next few weeks,” the authorities added.

“Bleaching has been observed throughout the Marine Park – it is extensive yet variable, affecting numerous places and ranging in severity from minor to severe,” according to the authorities.
Coral bleaching triggered by extremely warm water temperatures in 2016, 2017, and 2020 has wreaked havoc on the reef. Two-thirds of the coral has been breached previously.
Greenpeace said the severe and widespread coral bleaching that occurred during a La Nia weather pattern, which is linked to colder Pacific Ocean temperatures, was proof of the Australian government’s failure to safeguard coral from the effects of climate change.

In a statement, Greenpeace Australia Pacific Climate Impacts Campaigner Martin Zavan said, “This is a sure evidence that climate change driven by burning coal, oil, and gas is threatening the very life of our reef.”
Last July, Australia received enough international support to prevent UNESCO, the United Nations’ cultural organization, from downgrading the reef’s World Heritage classification to “in danger” due to climate change damage.
However, the issue will be raised again at the World Heritage Committee’s next annual conference in June.

Next week, a United Nations delegation will inspect the reef’s condition.

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