Coral Sea experiences eighth warmest year on record in 2009

Australia’s National Climate Centre (which is housed by the Bureau of Meteorology) undertakes real-time analysis of sea surface temperature around Australia.  This is an important task in terms of assessing the risk faced from climate change by our fisheries and assets such as the Great Barrier Reef.

The latest analysis of the Coral Sea region is of significant interest.  The warming trend is unmistakable and is statistically significant. And it turns out that 2009 was the eighth warmest year on record for this region.  Experts at the National Climate Centre have also suggested that 2010 is likely to be a near-record temperature based on the evolution of the current El Niño event.

With every increase in sea surface temperature, critical organisms such as reef-building corals are pushed closer to the threshold at which they undergo mass coral bleaching and mortality. This is essentially an issue of increasing risk.  With projections of future sea temperatures that are 2 or even 4°C above today, it is incredibly hard to argue that iconic and economically important assets like the Great Barrier Reef are not in the deep trouble.

2 thoughts on “Coral Sea experiences eighth warmest year on record in 2009

  1. Looks to be fourth highest in that graph, or am I misunderstanding something? (similarly in the previous post, the Phillippines looks significantly worse than Australia, but you suggest they are very similar).

    This is important additional data to add to your previous two posts. Are there any more general studies that show what is happening to the reef overall? I don’t know – fish populations? Algal blooms? Coral spawning events? Chemical composition of water? Recruitment rates of invertebrate species? Or are there too few wide scale studies of such things?

    I know Mr Bolt is doing an excellent job as caretaker, and promoter, of the Reef, but a few inputs from the real world might shower him with cold water even though he isn’t, of course, a scientist.

  2. I noticed that too. But I spoke to the a leading climatologist at BOM and they said said that the conclusion of it being the eighth warmest was probably the most most defensible position. I agree with your comments about all of the other subtle bits which we seem to forget. That is, this is not just about coral but also about more subtle bits and all those other very large biological and chemical cycles. As for Mr. Bolt, I guess he is just a dishonest journalist trying to sell newspapers. He will say anything to kowtow to his sycophantic fan club. I wonder how he is able to sleep at night.

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