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Flooding in Australia affecting Great Barrier Reef

January 13, 2011

I want to go here before it stops looking like this.

Continued flooding in the Queensland State of Australia is negatively affecting the Great Barrier Reef.

Researchers Down Under have started testing the waters surrounding the reef, and they have found that a large amount of sediment is being dumped into the south end of it. While this sediment alone would be very detrimental to the fragile ecosystem, the top soil also contains pesticides and fertilizers. These toxins are further damaging the world’s largest reef system.

According to Katharina Fabricius, a researcher at the Australian Institute of Marine Science, “…high levels of nutrients and sediments can reduce coral diversity and increase the cover of seaweeds on inshore reefs.”

Bad news bears.

The flooding throughout Queensland is the worst it’s been in 50 years, however, flooding in the area is nothing new: The river dumping sediment into the reef also severely flooded in 2008 and 2009. During those years, the number of starfish in the reef  increased. And starfish also negatively affect the reef.

While flooding sucks, this picture is still fucking awesome.

So what’s going on here?

The flooding has been linked to the La Nina weather phenomenon. According to USA Today, La Nina occurs naturally and it “refers to cooler-than-normal sea-surface temperatures in parts of the Pacific, causing disruptions in weather patterns.”

So far, there is no clear link between the flooding in Australia and global warming, however, many scientists warn that these extreme weather events are a sign of what’s to come on a warming planet.

Just today, NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced that 2010 tied with 2005 as the hottest year since records began in 1880.These numbers are in spite of less solar activity and cooling weather phenomenons like La Nina.

James Hansen, the director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, says the Earth’s temperature has been above average for 34 years straight. And a warmer planet will lead to more severe flooding, droughts, and more intense storms.

So that’s even more bad news bears.

While global warming has pretty much dropped off the list of issues we still talk about in the U.S., and people still debate if it’s even real (seriously check out the comments in that Telegraph article), it’s clear to most of us that storms are getting more intense and the Earth is heating up. And it’s only going to get worse before it gets better — just ask the Romans.

Great — now I’m depressed.


Want to do something to help save the Great Barrier Reef? Check out the World Wildlife Foundation to find out what you can do.


2 Comments leave one →
  1. January 14, 2011 12:24 am

    Love the blog. It’s great to see others in the news industry who are also passionate about animals. Keep up the good work.

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