North Brisbane faces a warm, humid weekend with temperatures in the high 20s, isolated showers and possible thunderstorms.
October in North Brisbane is warmer than it was in the 1970s. Around six additional days a month reach at least 26 degrees.
Fifty years ago October usually had six days and reached 26 degrees
Nowadays, however, it’s more like 12 days a month.
This warming trend can be seen across Southeast Queensland. Amberley, Cape Moreton, and Logan all have more October days than they used to.
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Such warming trends are not only occurring on land, but we are also seeing an increase in sea temperatures.
David Wachenfeld, chief scientist for the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, explains why ocean warming can bleach coral.
“Corals are less than an inch in diameter, but there are tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands in every colony,” said Dr. Wachenfeld.
“There are millions, if not billions, of colonies in the Great Barrier Reef, and when you add it all up, this little animal has created a structure that can be seen from space.”
Corals get stressed when sea temperatures are too warm for too long.
In the past five years, Wachenfeld has observed three mass bleaching events that were triggered by above-average sea temperatures.
Corals, which are also known as “marine heat waves”, when these events occur, drive away the microscopic algae that live in their tissue, leaving them “bleached”.
“It is important to realize that bleaching is a stress reaction,” said Dr. Wachenfeld.
“If this stress is not too great, the coral will recover at the end of the day, (but) if it is very great, the coral will die.”
In the past 25 years, half of the coral found on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef has disappeared.
Why is coral so colorful?
The microscopic algae that feed and live in corals give them their vibrant colors.
Some species also produce colorful protein pigments to protect against UV rays and adapt to different light and temperature conditions.
A healthy coral cover provides food and habitat for marine life and protects our coasts from storms and erosion.
Dr. Christa Pudmenzky is a climate researcher at the University of Southern Queensland.
This column is part of a collaboration between Monash University and News Corp to provide hyperlocal weather and climate information.
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