Bleached coral off Keppel Islands, Great Barrier Reef
(Photo : Acropora via Wikimedia CC BY 3.0)

Coral reefs have been going through the roughest bleaching phenomenon since 1998. That event appears to have come to an end in 2017. That’s the good news.

But scientists at the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) are concerned that there will not be enough time to allow recovery before the next event.

Coral reefs begin to bleach when they come into contact with water that is especially warm. So you guessed it, this is another symptom of rising ocean temperatures due to global warming. Ocean temperatures rise because they absorb much of the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Since humans began the Industrial Age, global carbon dioxide levels have been rising dramatically. Ocean temperatures have been rising as well, which leads to bleaching and destruction of coral reefs.

Coral reefs are the forests of the ocean. They support large amounts of marine life vital to the food chain. When coral reefs begin to die, the crustaceans and small animals that live within the reefs and…