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Global Warming’s Toll on Coral Reefs: As if They’re ‘Ravaged by War’

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In theory, coral reefs can recover from even a severe bleaching event. Some of the coral will die off from increased disease susceptibility, but once ocean temperatures drop again, many of the corals will start growing back. But that’s only if they’re given enough time. Typically, it takes 10 to 15 years for the fastest-growing corals to recover after a severe bleaching event. Larger corals that provide shelter for bigger fish can take even longer to grow back. As bleaching events become more frequent, reefs are unlikely to get that needed reprieve. Earth’s average temperature has increased 1 degree Celsius , or 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit, above preindustrial levels, and the median time between severe bleaching events is now just six years, the Science study found. Case in point: The Scott Reef, 180 miles off the coast of Northwestern Australia, had over the past few years finally begun recovering from a...
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