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Australia’s great barrier reef has exploded with a variety of eye-catching colors as the coral has spawned, making an amazing recovery from a life-threatening coral bleaching episode. 

Coral spawns happen every year, causing the waters to erupt in a burst of beautiful color. However, this is a phenomenon that could very easily disappear over time with the rising risks of global heating.

Coral bleaching is a constant concern for the coral species, specifically the great barrier reef. A recent study showed that if global heating was kept just below 2°C, extreme levels of coral bleaching will happen five times each decade by the middle of this century. Allowing global heating to go over 2°C will have catastrophic effects on the coral, even pushing it to the point of disappearing altogether.

Jen McWhorter, who has a combined role at the University of Exeter and the University of Queensland, explained, “The stress we see above 2°C under these higher [greenhouse gas] emissions scenarios is three to four times greater than present-day conditions.”

Scientists are currently working on breeding heat-resistant coral to combat the bleaching and coral loss resulting from global heating. This is done in the hopes of creating coral species that can survive hotter temperatures and still continue to populate and thrive. This kind of research could save coral populations that are constantly at risk of disappearing, such as the great barrier reef.

Keeping global heating below 2°C is vital for our planet. However, if our leaders continue to allow avoid addressing the magnitude of the climate crisis, hopefully, these types of heat-resistant coral could still continue to survive.

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