Clouds may be the best help in fight against bleach­ing

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - NEWS -

CLOUD cov­er­age can help pro­tect co­ral in the Great Bar­rier Reef.

Amer­i­canPhD stu­dent Su­san­nah Leahy has been re­search­ing just how much cloud cover im­pacts what goes on un­der wa­ter.

“We have been look­ing at sys­tems and tem­per­a­ture data and col­lect­ing data from all over the re­gion for quite a while now and work­ing with satel­lite data for the last two years,” she said.

“It helps us see reefs on a re­ally lo­cal scale, just a few patchy clouds over a tiny reef and not over the neigh­bour reef 100m away could make a big dif­fer­ence as to whether or not you’re go­ing to bleach or not.

“With that in mind they are de­sign­ing re­ally hi-tech mod­els and zoom­ing even closer to the reef to try and cap­ture reef vari­a­tions to help un­der­stand why it’s hap­pen­ing.”

The re­port has been fo­cus­ing on cloud feed­back mech­a­nisms to help un­der­stand the full com­plex­ity of cli­mate change.

Re­sults from the re­port have in­di­cated ex­ten­sive low cloud cover re­duces in­com­ing so­lar ra­di­a­tion, which lim­its ther­mal stress on corals and can help re­duce the chances of co­ral bleach­ing.

Other stresses that can be mon­i­tored and re­duced in­clude chem­i­cal, tourism and al­gae stress to help pro­tect co­ral reefs early for long-term sus­tain­abil­ity and con­ser­va­tion.

“Reef man­age­ment is re­ally com­plex try­ing to in­volve stake­hold­ers and we want to give them enough in­for­ma­tion in time say­ing this reef is go­ing to bleach, look af­ter it and you need to pro­tect it,” Ms Leahy said.

“The cure can be quiet fast if the reef is gen­er­ally healthy, in a cou­ple years reefs can look back to nor­mal and if you treat them well they can bounce back quickly.”

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