Global Heating Pushes Coral Reefs Towards Worst Planet-wide Mass Bleaching on Record

Apr 15, 2024

The percentage of reef areas experiencing bleaching-level heat stress is increasing by about 1% a week, scientists say.

Global heating has pushed the world’s coral reefs to a fourth planet-wide mass bleaching event that is on track to be the most extensive on record, US government scientists have confirmed.

Some 54% of ocean waters containing coral reefs have experienced heat stress high enough to cause bleaching, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Coral Reef Watch said.

A global bleaching event is declared when at least 12% of corals in each of the main ocean basins – Pacific, Atlantic and Indian – experience bleaching-level heat stress within a 12-month period. The declaration also requires confirmed reports of bleaching.

Coral Reef Watch also confirmed the world’s largest coral reef system – Australia’s Great Barrier Reef – had been through its most widespread heat stress event on record in 2024.

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