6 Jan 2016
2015 WAS AUSTRALIA’S FIFTH HOTTEST YEAR ON RECORD, WHILE CORAL BLEACHING LOOMS FOR GREAT BARRIER REEF
As Australia braces for a potentially devastating coral bleaching event in coming months on the Great Barrier Reef, the Bureau of Meteorology has today confirmed that 2015 was the country’s fifth hottest year on record.
With the latter months of the year particularly warm, the current strong El Niño contributed to temperatures 0.83 degrees above average in Australia during 2015, while globally it is predicted that 2015 will be the Earth’s warmest year on record.
The confirmation comes as experts fear the third global coral bleaching event ever recorded is already underway.
Increases in ocean temperatures - brought on by climate change and made worse by the current El Niño weather conditions - can cause coral to turn white and die.
The phenomenon has already been witnessed in the Florida Keys, American Samoa, and Hawaii and predictions are it could hit the Great Barrier Reef early this year.
Climate change could trigger more frequent bleaching events in the decades ahead, making it impossible for reefs to recover before the next heatwave hits.
Climate Policy Manager with WWF-Australia Adrian Enright said that since the last big bleaching event in 2002, a transformation in renewable energy is giving hope that we can limit global temperature rises, and curtail mass bleaching in the future.
“Today more than 1.4 million homes in Australia are generating energy from the sun, and the last 12 months has seen green energy investments worldwide surge to $270 billion,” Mr Enright said.
“Coupled with actions to make the Reef more resistant to temperature rises, such as working with farmers to stop pollution that fuels coral eating starfish, we can help preserve the Reef for future generations.”
WWF-Australia Media Contact: Daniel Rockett, National Media Manager, 0432 206 592