Scientists say a record heat wave in northern Queensland will further increase sea temperatures above average, which will increase the risk of another coral bleaching event on the Great Barrier Reef next year.
Dozens of record November temperatures were recorded in the region this week, mostly along the reef coastline.
The most remarkable thing was in Cairns, where successive days reached temperatures of 42.6 ° C and 40.9 ° C. The maximum temperature on Tuesday broke the November record, which stood at 5.4 ° C since 1900
Extreme weather fueled more than 130 shrubs, which Prime Minister Anastasia Palashchuk said on Twitter, "it was not the kind of fire that we saw in Queensland before."
“Heat recordings and fire weather are unprecedented,” said Palashchuk.
A dust storm caused by strong westerly winds covered the southern inland parts of the state. In the north, thousands of native flying foxes died due to high temperatures.
Terry Hughes, a reef scientist at James Cook University Coral Center of Excellence, said the summer heat was “terrifying” and raised the chances of coral death on the Great Barrier Reef early next year.
In early 2016 and 2017, the reef received successive sea waves, which killed the corals and severely damaged the northern and central parts.
Hughes said that whitening predictions are “stretching upward,” but scientists will not have a clear picture until the end of January.
Coral ecophysiologist Dr. Neil Catin of the Australian Institute of Marine Sciences said that ocean temperatures remain lower than those recorded at the same time in 2015 and 2016, but warmer than historical averages.
Catin said that the current heatwave “will add heat and warm the ocean. This certainly adds heat to the system. This week we saw record land temperatures that we expect to see in the future with climate change and warming up.
“We are in the phase of the clock. The specific potential and how local weather trends in January and February will really determine whether we will get a large-scale whitening event or not.
"There are some signs that we can avoid [bleaching] this summer. At this stage, it will be less likely than 2016, but we will be ready to respond. [if bleaching occurs]".
The reality of climate change
“The danger I’m most worried about is heat waves,” said Andrew Gissing, an expert in disaster risk management at Francis Freuters.
"Australia needs to be better prepared for warm waves, and we are already predicting that climate change will become more severe."
Gissing told Guardian Australia that people often respond to extreme weather events and natural disasters based on their previous experience. But he said that governments, enterprises and individuals are often not ready to increase the degree and frequency of such events.
“We worked a lot in Lismore after Cyclone Debbie. So many people took shelter in their homes because this is what they always did when it was flooded. They simply did not understand that this stream was much more
"People really need to be tuned in to what is really going on … how the nature of climatic hazards is changing."
Gissing said businesses need to start investing in climate change mitigation and adaptation measures.
"It will be very difficult to soften many [predicted climate] consequences, so adapting to the future will be really important. Especially when you impose climate change on a growing population base.
" [number of people living on the Queensland coast] probably double by about 2030. Because of climate change, we look, [to disaster risks] there too ".