Professor joins boatload of scientists for interviews about the reef, on the reef

Published:27 November 2019

CQUniversity Adjunct Professor Steve Turton is interviewed at Moore's Reef near Cairns.

Corals are being pushed outside their comfort zone and climate change is a 'big deal' for the Great Barrier Reef.

These were some of the key points made during an interview by CQUniversity Adjunct Professor Steve Turton, who recently joined other scientists on a boat trip to Moore's Reef, organised by Citizens of the Great Barrier Reef.

During the '24 Hours of Reality: Truth in Action 2019' trip, Professor Turton said it was "just the nature of the beast" that coral reefs are very sensitive to temperature changes.

"We also know marine heat waves occur on the reef and they cause the coral to bleach … they are associated with these mass bleaching events," he said.

"We also know that the planet is warming. We’ve had 1 degree of warming since 1910 - that’s the global average - and the reef is no different ... the oceans have been warming at a similar rate.

"That means that corals are now being pushed a little bit outside their comfort zone and what we’re finding is that these bleaching events are now becoming more common and we can be fairly certain going forward that they are going to become more common in the future, especially if we don’t do something about global emissions.

"So climate change is a big deal for the reef - probably the biggest deal - because it’s one of these things we know can bleach significant areas of the reef and you can effect even areas that are further away from land.

"Out here where we are on the outer reef, there’s no real affect from the land. There’s no sediments or nutrients getting out here but we’ve got these pristine reefs that can still become bleached because it’s climate change that’s the driver."