Study: Great Barrier Reef at risk of dying within 20 years

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Study: Great Barrier Reef At Risk Of Dying Within 20 Years

Could the Great Barrier Reef die within just 20 years?

Large sections are projected to do so by the mid-2030s, as stated in a news release issued on Friday by Australia's ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science.

This dire conclusion is based on new research involving the acceleration of coral bleaching due to climate change.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, coral bleaching occurs when stresses like warmer waters cause the organism to release its algae and become white.

Photos of organisms in the Great Barrier Reef:

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Study: Great Barrier Reef at risk of dying within 20 years
A photo taken on September 22, 2014, shows fish swimming through the coral on Australia's Great Barrier Reef. The 2,300-kilometre-long reef contributes AUS$5.4 billion (US$4.8 billion) annually to the Australian economy through tourism, fishing, and scientific research, while supporting 67,000 jobs, according to government data. According to an Australian government report in August, the outlook for the Earth's largest living structure is 'poor', with climate change posing the most serious threat to the extensive coral reef ecosystem. AFP PHOTO/William WEST (Photo credit should read WILLIAM WEST/AFP/Getty Images)
A photo taken on September 22, 2014, shows fish swimming through the coral on Australia's Great Barrier Reef. The 2,300-kilometre-long reef contributes AUS$5.4 billion (US$4.8 billion) annually to the Australian economy through tourism, fishing, and scientific research, while supporting 67,000 jobs, according to government data. According to an Australian government report in August, the outlook for the Earth's largest living structure is 'poor', with climate change posing the most serious threat to the extensive coral reef ecosystem. AFP PHOTO/William WEST (Photo credit should read WILLIAM WEST/AFP/Getty Images)
A photo taken on September 22, 2014, shows a turtle on Australia's Great Barrier Reef. The 2,300-kilometre-long reef contributes AUS$5.4 billion (US$4.8 billion) annually to the Australian economy through tourism, fishing, and scientific research, while supporting 67,000 jobs, according to government data. According to an Australian government report in August, the outlook for the Earth's largest living structure is 'poor', with climate change posing the most serious threat to the extensive coral reef ecosystem. AFP PHOTO/William WEST (Photo credit should read WILLIAM WEST/AFP/Getty Images)
Great Barrier Reef - Aerial View - Whitsundays, Queensland, Australia
School of Surgeon fish on Great Barrier Reef Australia
Upolu Cay Island in the Coral Sea Great Barrier Reef
An aerial view of the islands of the Great Barrier Reef in Queensland, Australia
Aerial view of the Great Barrier Reef
World Heritage Site,Oceania,Aerial view
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While recovery is possible, it typically takes about 15 years which experts do not believe is feasible under the current conditions.

And while bleaching can happen naturally at very low rates, scientists place the blame squarely on people, according to the Washington Post.

Dr Andrew King, the lead author of the study, is quoted as saying, "Our research showed this year's bleaching event is 175 times more likely today than in a world where humans weren't emitting greenhouse gases."

The team admits the study was released early before being peer-reviewed, but they felt an urgency to release the data and "are confident in the results."

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