With the future of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef under threat, a newly funded three year project will expand our understanding of the drivers and context of recent mass coral bleaching on the reef.

 The reef suffered a mass coral bleaching event due to unusually warm water temperatures in February 2020 – this was the third such event in just five years. A sharp decline in coral cover across the reef over the decades has caused concern for the reef’s ability to withstand the cumulative impacts of ocean warming, acidification and regional threats, including more severe tropical cyclones, crown-of-thorns starfish predation, and reduced water quality. But we do not fully understand how reef biota and systems react to environmental change over the long term and there are lessons we can learn from the past.

A multi-disciplinary team led by Associate Professor Helen McGregor from UOW and including Wollongong Australian Research Council DECRA Fellow Tara Clark are investigating the impact of environmental change on the reef. Their work has already made substantial advances in our understanding of threats to the reef.

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