AAP Image/Stuart Parker
Marine heatwaves have caused coral bleaching in one of the most isolated ecosystems in the world.
Recent marine heatwaves have devastated crucial coastal habitats, including kelp forests, seagrass meadows and coral reefs.
Marine heatwaves, like their land counterparts, are growing hotter and longer. Sea species in southeastern Australia, southeast Asia, northwestern Africa, Europe and eastern Canada are most at risk.
Shark Bay was hit by a brutal marine heatwave in 2011.
W. Bulach/Wikimedia Commons
Everyone knows the Great Barrier Reef is in peril. But a continent away, Western Australia's Shark Bay is also threatened by marine heatwaves that could alter this World Heritage ecosystem forever.
This summer, coastal seas to the north and east of New Zealand are even warmer than during last year’s marine heat wave.
Marine heatwaves may become the new normal for the Tasman Sea and the ocean around New Zealand, and oceanographers are developing models to better predict their intensity.
Can geoengineering buy the coral reefs more time?
Oregon State University/Flickr
Climate mitigation efforts are unlikely to be enough to save critical ecosystems like the Great Barrier Reef. We may need to consider more radical environmental engineering.
Marine heatwaves can kill off species and alter ecosystems.
Marine heatwaves have had little attention until recently, but they're already having large effects.
Staghorn and tabular corals suffered mass die-offs, robbing many individual reefs of their characteristic shapes.
ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies/ Mia Hoogenboom
The 2016 bleaching event resulted in 30% mortality on the Great Barrier Reef, with many corals dying of the heat before they bleached and the loss of branching corals creating less complex reef structure.
The southern Great Barrier Reef escaped both of the recent mass bleaching events. But time is running out.
AAP Image/ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, Tory Chase
Tropical coral reefs can be saved from climate change and other pressures, but the window of opportunity is closing. And reefs are guaranteed to be markedly different in the future.