How the Reef is managed
- Managing multiple uses
- Marine Monitoring Program
- Eye on the Reef program
- Water quality in the Great Barrier Reef
- Science for management
- Tourism on the Great Barrier Reef
- Recreation on the Great Barrier Reef
- Fisheries in the Marine Park
- Field Management of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park
- Managing Commonwealth Islands
- Register of management arrangements
- Douglas Shoal environmental remediation project
- Managing for a resilient Reef
- Strategic assessment and 25-year management plan
- Great Barrier Reef Outlook Report
Reef 2050 Long-term Sustainability Plan
- Reef 2050 Long-term Sustainability Plan
- Reef 2050 policies
- Reef 2050 Integrated Monitoring and Reporting Program
Threats to the Reef
- Climate change
- How climate change is affecting the Reef
- What does this mean for species?
- Climate change impacts on microscopic organisms
- Climate change impacts on marine plants
- Climate change impacts on corals
- Climate change impacts on fish
- Climate change impacts on marine mammals
- Climate change impacts on marine reptiles
- Climate change impacts on seabirds
- Climate change impacts on seabed dwellers
- What does this mean for habitats?
- What does this mean for communities and industries?
- Climate Change Action Plan 2012-2017
- Current conditions on the Reef
- Coastal development and protecting the Great Barrier Reef
- Declining water quality
- Extreme weather
- Remaining impacts from fishing
- Marine debris
- Climate change
Impacts of rising sea temperatures on the Reef
Rising sea surface temperatures from climate change are already affecting the Great Barrier Reef and have the potential for significant effects across the whole ecosystem.
Temperature plays a critical role in determining the distribution and diversity of marine life. It is critical to reef building and controls the rate of coral reef growth.
Like all marine life, corals have evolved over many thousands of years within limited temperature ranges.
When these limits are exceeded, corals are put under thermal stress, causing them to expel the tiny algae that live within their tissues – it's this algae that gives corals their colour and most of their food and energy.
This results in coral bleaching, and if conditions don't ease within weeks, the corals eventually starve and die.
Coral bleaching is not always fatal, but has been one of the main causes of coral death around the world in the past two decades.
Since 1910–1929 average ocean temperatures around Australia have warmed by 0.68 degrees Celsius.
Records were set in the summer of 2012–13 when the hottest sea surface temperatures for the Australian region were recorded.
The Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change predicts that by 2035 the average sea surface temperature will be warmer than any previously recorded, and by 2100 sea temperatures off north-eastern Australia could be at least 2.5 degrees Celsius warmer than the present average.
Rising sea temperatures are not expected to be uniform across the Great Barrier Reef. Rather, the number, size and duration of warm pools (or hotspots) are all expected to increase.
A Vulnerability Assessment: of the issues that could have far-reaching consequences for the Great Barrier Reef.
Current Conditions: Environmental and climatic forecasts for the Great Barrier Reef