Coral coverage at the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) in Australia is nearing record highs, according to recently released data from the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS).
“Survey reefs experienced low levels of acute stressors over the past 12 months with no prolonged high temperatures or major cyclones,” AIMS found. “Overall, 59 out of 127 reefs had moderate (>10% – 30%) hard coral cover and 36 reefs had high (>30% – 50%) hard coral cover.”
AIMS explained, “2021 has been a low disturbance year, while the period from 2014 to 2020 was an intense period of widespread disturbances. There were numerous severe tropical cyclones and three mass coral bleaching events in five years.”
“In periods free from acute disturbances, most GBR coral reefs demonstrate resilience through the ability to begin recovery,” AIMS warned. “However, the reefs of the GBR continue to be exposed to cumulative stressors, and the prognosis for the future disturbance regime is one of increased and longer lasting marine heatwaves and a greater proportion of severe tropical cyclones.”
The most recent report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change could not detect an increase in the long-term frequency or severity of tropical cyclones, which is consistent with earlier research.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, “the historical tropical storm count record does not provide compelling evidence for a greenhouse warming induced long-term increase … The evidence for an upward trend is even weaker if we look at U.S. landfalling hurricanes, which even show a slight negative trend beginning from 1900 or from the late 1800s.”
As explained by Dr. Roger Pielke Jr., “it is simply incorrect to claim that on climate time scales the frequency or intensity of extreme weather and climate events has increased for: flooding, drought (meteorological or hydrological), tropical cyclones, winter storms, thunderstorms, tornadoes, hail, lightning or extreme winds (so, storms of any type).”