The sea surface temperature (SST) model forecast (NOAA) for the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) is predicting widespread bleaching, with severe scenarios predicted to affect the northern GBR from mid January 2009. Predictions for the month of December suggests that the potential for bleaching from central GBR intensifying to the north will extend into 2009. When sea surface temperature forecasts exceed bleaching thresholds and continue long enough to cause bleaching, the outlook products display the bleaching potential during the upcoming warm season.
Actual conditions for December show temperatures around the central GBR 0.75-1.0 degrees Celsius above the MMM +1 (mean monthly maxima), and above 1 degrees Celcius to the Northern GBR and waters SE of PNG (Link). Recent SST changes have also been mapped by the Australian Bureau for Meteorology and confirm gradual warming on the GBR despite sub surface cooling in the central to eastern pacific.
The majority of dynamic computer models are predicting neutral climate conditions to continue through the southern summer, however, some models are predicting a return to La Niña conditions which may drive monsoon, storm like conditions and generate some cooling in Queensland (Link). More updates as they come.