[Coral-List] GBR Coral Bleaching Update - December 2003

Paul Marshall paulma at gbrmpa.gov.au
Fri Dec 19 01:21:00 EST 2003

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority Climate Change Program is 
dedicated to understanding and reporting coral bleaching events and 
other climate change impacts on the Great Barrier Reef, and developing 
strategies to respond to this emerging threat.

The Climate Change Program provides regular reports on conditions on the 
reef throughout summer and publishes early warnings of increases in 
levels of stress or widespread bleaching of corals. This is the first 
Current Conditions Report for the summer of 2003/04.

**GBR Current Conditions Report 19 December 2003**

The warm weather of the last few weeks heralds the onset of summer for 
northeastern Australia. Sea temperatures in the Great Barrier Reef have 
been a little above average throughout much of winter, with recent weeks 
showing a strong increase in temperature at key locations.

The Australian Bureau of Meteorology National Climate Centre reports 
that the chances of above average temperatures for the January to March 
period are 75 to 80% in northern Queensland. In addition, the World 
Meteorological Organisation just announced that 2003 was the second 
hottest year on record, following closely global temperatures recorded 
for 1998.

While this may increase the chances of above-average sea temperatures 
occurring this summer, the actual risk of widespread coral bleaching on 
the Great Barrier Reef will be determined by a complex interaction of 
regional water temperatures, local air temperatures, cloud cover, winds 
and rainfall.

While it is certainly shaping up to be a hot summer, weather patterns 
over the coming months will be critical in determining whether the Great 
Barrier Reef experiences another coral bleaching event this season.

Widespread bleaching of corals is not expected at this time of year, and 
water temperatures are currently below levels known to cause thermal 
stress to corals. As summer progresses, the situation will be closely 
monitored by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority in conjunction 
with AIMS and NOAA.

The latest update on conditions on the Reef, together with further 
information about coral bleaching can be found on the GBRMPA web site

The GBRMPA welcomes any reports of coral bleaching. If you regularly 
visit a reef site, or you have seen bleaching on the reef, we would be 
grateful for your input to our BleachWatch Program. Follow the links 
from the GBRMPA home page to BleachWatch.

For more information on GBRMPA’s Coral Bleaching Response Program or 
BleachWatch, contact the Climate Change Program of the Research and 
Monitoring Unit: research_and_monitoring at gbrmpa.gov.au.

Best wishes for a relaxing christmas and a bleaching-free summer,

Paul Marshall
Jessica Hoey
and the rest of the GBRMPA Climate Change team.

Dr Paul Marshall
Climate Change Program
Research & Monitoring Co-ordination Unit
Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority
PO Box 1379
Townsville QLD 4810

email: p.marshall at gbrmpa.gov.au
phone: 07 4750 0771
fax:   07 4772 6093
mobile:0428 889 812

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