Surprise – the Australian Great Barrier Reef has “Bounced Back” from Climate Change

I know all of you will be surprised that an organism which survived the dinosaur killer has has shown an unexpected ability to cope with a degree of global warming over the last 172 years.

Coral makes comeback on Great Barrier Reef, but climate change looms

12:28am, Aug 4, 2022
Tracey Ferrier

Coral cover has bounced back across two-thirds of the Great Barrier Reef, but scientists say its long-term health remains at risk from climate change.

Dr Mike Emslie leads the agency’s long-term monitoring program and says the reef has shown it can still recover if given the chance.

He says the increased coral cover from Cape York south to Proserpine is the result of a few years of relative calm.

While the reef has suffered negative effects from mass coral bleaching events in 2020 and again this summer, they weren’t anywhere near as deadly for coral as the ones in 2016 and 2017.

The reef has also benefited from a few years without being battered by cyclones.

“Our latest surveys show the Great Barrier Reef is still an amazing place. It’s still vibrant. It can still recover if given the chance,” Dr Emslie says.

“But the impacts of climate change are going to progress as we move forward. Is it always going to remain that way is the million dollar question.”

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The concern over the survival of the Great Barrier Reef is beyond absurd. Coral is one of the most resilient organisms on the planet.

While the adult form of coral is anchored in place, every year corals spawn uncountable billions of highly mobile larvae which colonise favourable sites. Any damaged reef is instantly colonised by adjacent reefs as soon as favourable conditions return.

During the rapid warming which occurred after the end of the ice age, the sea level rose at an astounding 3ft / 1m per century – sometimes even faster, up to 2.5m / century. The Great Barrier Reef used to be much further out to sea, but as the sea level rose, the reef simply moved, as coral spawn rapidly colonised favourable locations on the newly flooded coastal land.

Modern global warming and sea level rise pose no threat to Australian coral.

Video of Great Barrier Reef coral spawning. Sadly the video contains a gratuitous coral bleaching global warming reference in the last few seconds
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August 3, 2022 6:06 pm

How does “relative calm” help a complex symbiotic system to recover from high temperature?

(Hint: it doesn’t.)

Reply to  dk_
August 3, 2022 8:14 pm

Ocean warming from 0-700m over the last 50 years is 0.25C

Reply to  dk_
August 3, 2022 8:35 pm

I think they were referring to lack of recent cyclones, but if not goodness only knows!

Hoyt Clagwell
Reply to  HowardDewhirst
August 3, 2022 10:02 pm

So cyclones are on the decrease too? Double good news! I suppose they still want us to be terrified that cyclonic activity COULD increase with climate change.

Reply to  HowardDewhirst
August 3, 2022 11:04 pm

It’s amazing that they mentioned the cyclones, the real reason for any padt ‘bleaching’. Someone must of have been away from the screen during the last climate change emergency indoctrination session. Electric shock treatments will be coming their way, to eliminate that hint of critical thinking that popped up.

Reply to  dk_
August 3, 2022 9:44 pm

“Relative calm” allows the reef to repair cyclone damage, a far worse problem for it than a little bleaching.

Reply to  dk_
August 3, 2022 10:44 pm

Temperature was never the problem in the first place!

Reply to  Truthbknown
August 4, 2022 7:38 am

Commie/Fascists leftwits are the ONLY problem with our environment.

August 3, 2022 6:24 pm

Coral bleaching is just a wardrobe change mechanism …

Bryan A
Reply to  Chris Hanley
August 3, 2022 7:23 pm

SHHH they’ll get Ridd of you like they did Peter

Reply to  Chris Hanley
August 4, 2022 2:29 am

Patrick Moore mentioned this on his video promoting his book, that and polar bears and other scare stories. I felt so much better after watching it.

August 3, 2022 7:21 pm

So when will we see retractions from the MSM claiming the reefs are dying?

Reply to  markl
August 3, 2022 8:26 pm

Our majority left leaning media never step back.

Reply to  markl
August 3, 2022 8:36 pm


Craig from Oz
Reply to  markl
August 3, 2022 11:10 pm

Give it about 18 months and we will hear how the deep ocean fish are at risk because Global Warming(tm) is causing coral reefs growth that threatens their ‘coral free’ lifestyles’.

August 3, 2022 8:25 pm

The Australian Greens (AKA Watermelons – red inside) Leader recently claimed the planet will soon be burning and the GBR is in poor condition.

Reply to  Dennis
August 4, 2022 1:31 am

True – if you read Great Britain for GBR!

August 3, 2022 8:40 pm

Almost all of what is now the GBR was well and truly not there as sea level went below the current continental shelf where water generally too deep for reefs. So the entire reef was regenerated by MUCH warmer water Indonesian corals. The current reef is just about 8000 years old, marvellous really and done without human help or hindrance

August 3, 2022 8:45 pm

The only million dollar question is ‘When will these sirry ijits realise that the reef will always be there – until the next glaciation lowers sea level by 100 plus meters.’

August 3, 2022 8:47 pm

I’m an avid sport diver who has dived the reefs around Cairns, New Britain, Thailand, many Caribbean Islands, the Philippines and Red Sea.
The biggest threat to local reefs is coastal development (construction runoff/dumping) and increased traffic.

August 3, 2022 9:10 pm

2 points –

  1. Corals are the marine equivalent of weeds – essential elements of the biosphere, omnipresent in suitable areas, very hard to eliminate.
  2. Why do coral “experts” ignore the striking example of the obliteration and resurrection in just 60 years of the Bikini Atoll lagoon coral reefs?
AGW is Not Science
Reply to  Mr.
August 4, 2022 6:07 am

That’s the one that truly makes me laugh. Nuclear bombs couldn’t kill coral reefs near the Bikini Atoll, but a measly ~1 degree Celsius of warming of the ‘surface’ (less in the oceans) over a CENTURY AND A HALF is supposedly a “threat” to the GBR.

It’s insulting to one’s intelligence.

Dave Andrews
Reply to  AGW is Not Science
August 4, 2022 7:32 am

Yep. The US carried out 67 nuclear tests on Bikini Atoll of which 22 were atom bombs and one the Castle Bravo hydrogen bomb. The latter, because of a miscalculation, was a much bigger explosion than expected (15 megatons and a 1000 times more powerful than the Hiroshima bomb) and left a crater of 2000 metres diameter and 76 metres deep. The mushroom cloud contaminated more than 7000 sq miles/ 16,000 sq kms.

Yet in 2008 researchers found that 70% of the atolls previous coral reef species had resettled the lagoon and found evidence that the coral had begun regrowing again as early as 10 years after the tests ended.

People are still advised to keep away from the atoll.

Reply to  Dave Andrews
August 4, 2022 2:30 pm

Corresponds to the damned weeds in my garden!

August 3, 2022 9:17 pm

The Reef is almost as bad as those polar bears. It simply refuses to die.

Reply to  Simonsays
August 4, 2022 6:11 am

Yup, it/they just keep getting bigger….

August 3, 2022 9:21 pm

The video gives some cursory information about the GBR that is probably realistic, as far as it goes, then it gets into doom and gloom.
From the video

this monumental structure once grew by several inches each year

it’s though that half the coral in this big beast has died

Considerable information has been published that damage to the GBR has accounted for considerably less than a 50% mortality rate.

Is there actual evidence that there has preciously been a growth rate of “several inches each year”?

Is there actual evidence that the current growth rate is less?

Is there any knowledge of how long an individual coral lives, given good conditions?

Is it not the case that the living parts of a reef continue to grow, independent of how much new coral has been added?
If so, unless individual coral live less than one year, would the growth rate not become greater and greater, year by year, through the combined growth of already existing coral and addition of new coral by spawning?

August 3, 2022 9:41 pm

1972 I took a cruise from Sydney to the reef in my yacht. Heading back south in August/September, when the trades are interrupted by some northerlies, I found myself sailing through vast patches, up to 30 acres, of a thick brown & occasionally yellow scum on the sea. Horrible stuff that stains your topsides badly if allowed to dry on them.

I spent a few days anchored at Middle Percey Island, sheltering from a sharp return of the southerly trade winds. I met a reef fisherman there. He & his crew had been out at the Swains fishing for a month, & had come in to fill their water tanks. These blokes stay out until they fill their freezer capacity, & he had been doing it since he was 16.

I mentioned the scum, & he told me it was dead coral spore. He explained the simultaneous release of coral spore over just a couple of nights, & said those not fertilized would die & float in these large scum patches for weeks.

The most interesting thing about this was that 10 years later those scientists pontificating about the reef announced their momentous discovery that coral release their spore simultaneous over just a couple of nights. Perhaps they had met a reef fisherman on one of their rare trips to the reef, who told them.

H. D. Hoese
Reply to  Hasbeen
August 4, 2022 12:59 am

Back in the days when biologists had to take Invertebrate Zoology they learned about the Samoan Palolo worm, epitokes by the trillion trillion, other species and examples elsewhere. ‘Wasting’ such numbers is common in the ocean and must mean something necessary, interesting question is about the few that survive with small numbers of offspring.

Joao Martins
Reply to  H. D. Hoese
August 4, 2022 3:31 am

Back in the days when biologists had to take Invertebrate Zoology

Oh! happy days!

(… and you can replace Invertebrate Zoology with several other BASIC fields of biology…)

Reply to  Hasbeen
August 4, 2022 1:44 am

Scientists hardly ever listen to those folk who actually earn a living doing what the scientists are studying. It is a world wide phenomenon.

Reply to  Oldseadog
August 4, 2022 7:52 am

“Ignorant” Scientists hardly ever listen to those folk who actually earn a living doing what the the scientists “say they” are studying.
Fixed it for you.
I suppose once they learn practical matters, they learn proper engineering and figure out how to actually build something useful.
All the math in the world doesn’t do a thing if you can’t turn a wrench.

The value of knowledge is in its application, not in accumulation.

Reply to  Rocketscientist
August 4, 2022 2:35 pm

What a wonderful final sentence! Thanks.

Geoff Sherrington
Reply to  Hasbeen
August 4, 2022 6:10 am

Heck, we North Queensland kids learned that in school in the 1940s. Geoff S.

Reply to  Geoff Sherrington
August 6, 2022 8:29 am

I was a north Queensland, Townsville, kid in school in the 1940s

August 3, 2022 9:55 pm

 ”…but scientists say its long-term health remains at risk from climate change.”

Of course it is. It means long term grants to keep the trough full.

August 3, 2022 10:11 pm

Every year following the coral spawning the trillions of larvae caught up in the East Australian current drift south beyond the current reef limits. The lucky ones land and grow in such places as Lord Howe Island, Middleton Reef and Elizabeth Reef. The vast majority die because it is too cold. If only it could get warmer maybe we could have coral reefs offshore Brisbane and Sydney.

Reply to  Malrob
August 3, 2022 11:00 pm

Brisbane has coral reefs in Moreton Bay, less than 20 miles from the city’s central business district.

August 3, 2022 10:43 pm

There is NO GLOBULL WARMING! Climate extremists were bleaching the reef in an attempt to cause concern!

August 3, 2022 11:07 pm

“…but climate change looms”


Scary stuff, kids!


Geoff Sherrington
Reply to  PCman999
August 4, 2022 6:13 am

No global warming over Australia for 10 years. Geoff S

August 3, 2022 11:10 pm


Since the first hard corals appeared about 450 million years ago there have been three major ice ages. During the last one during the Pleistocene (We are still in an ice age actually as ice ages are measured in geologic time) in which major glaciations lasted between 2,580,000 to 11,700 years ago, sea levels dropped about 400 feet and yet the reef survived.

Later during the Holocene the earth has been warmer several times than it is now.

And yet we’re supposed to believe that 1 deg. C warming has been killing it now!

August 3, 2022 11:13 pm

This is a masterclass in doom journalism by the BBC: coral cover in the GBR at a record high in 36 years of monitoring is turned into a bad news story:

Reply to  Phil Salmon
August 4, 2022 5:25 am

I red this on the BBC early today but iI can’t find it now. It must have been dropped because the story had some encouraging facts.

Clarky of Oz
August 3, 2022 11:55 pm

When does Peter Ridd get his job back? With hefty compensation too.

Kelvin Duncan
August 4, 2022 12:38 am

Isn’t it a shame when hard facts get in the way of a nice, satisfying panic.

August 4, 2022 12:58 am

There’s an interesting 2 Aug BBC report “Scientists discover cause of catastrophic mangrove destruction in Gulf of Carpentaria”
which finds that the cause of 40 million mangroves being wiped out was a “sudden 40-centimetre drop in sea level that lasted for about six months”. The sea level fall was caused by a “severe El Niño event”. They also say “The 1982 dieback also coincided with an unusually extreme drop in sea level during another very severe El Niño event. We know from satellite data that the mangroves took at least 15 years to recover from that dieback,”.
OK, that’s all well and good, but here’s the killer question: Where was the El Nino’s sea level fall mentioned when bleaching in the Great Barrier Reef was being hyped? Not at the BBC, that’s for sure. How can a sea level fall that kills 40 million mangroves not cause coral bleaching just across Cape York in the Great Barrier Reef. And yes, the sea level fall would have been similar in the two places and it was known to have occurred at the time. I covered it in (see “2016-7 Bleaching”) as did many others.

So – as we all know – the GBR has not “Bounced Back” from Climate Change, it has bounced back from a temporary fall in sea level.

Reply to  Mike Jonas
August 4, 2022 4:33 am

A Japanese study during the 1016-17 El Nino verified bleaching in the a large area that included the northern section of the GBR was caused by sea level drop. I think it was reported here on WUWT.

Alan M
Reply to  AndyHce
August 4, 2022 6:18 am

I guess that’s 2016-17

Rick Wedel
Reply to  Mike Jonas
August 5, 2022 9:03 am

Thanks for this excellent explanation.

Stephen Skinner
August 4, 2022 1:12 am

“…but scientists say its long-term health remains at risk from climate change.”
Maybe they do, but which scientists? All scientists? In any case ‘scientists say’ they remain at risk is an assertion, or just someone giving an opinion.

Reply to  Stephen Skinner
August 4, 2022 2:06 am

They belong to an organisation called The Science where everything is settled.

Reply to  Stephen Skinner
August 4, 2022 2:38 pm

“which scientists’? Those that were studying blue tits.

August 4, 2022 1:15 am

as the sea level rose, the reef simply moved, as coral spawn rapidly colonised favourable locations on the newly flooded coastal land”

Coral evidently has more intelligence than your average CAGW alarmist scientist.

Ben Vorlich
August 4, 2022 2:07 am

but scientists say its long-term health remains at risk from climate change.

Well they would wouldn’t they h/t Mandy Rice-Davies

August 4, 2022 2:14 am

From memory, about 600 years ago a rock from space fell into Bass Strait between Tasmania and mainland Australia and created a tsunami that travelled the thousands of kilometres north along the East Coast of Australia.

The City of Cairns in North Queensland has a thick muddy bottom in the waters of the harbour as compared to the sandy bottom of most of the coastline inshore. The mud is the result of the tsunami washing volcanic soil from the hills behind Cairns, the Atherton Tableland, coastal lands further South were also impacted.

I wonder how the offshore Great Barrier Reef survived, did part of it get damaged and recovered, another example of how coral reefs can survive natural disasters.

August 4, 2022 2:28 am

Why on earth did you include that dreadful video from Nature which was a very clever FALSE MEME planted against the background of beautiful photography and ending with a white reef and with the implication of imminent death.?
IMO these sort of dangerous Memes should NOT be reproduced or past on and should zapped where possible or certainly squashed with strong counter arguments.

Climate believer
August 4, 2022 2:43 am

“…but climate change looms”

It has been for a very long time, the wait is becoming very tedious.

Reply to  Climate believer
August 4, 2022 2:40 pm

There are a couple of things like that.

August 4, 2022 2:58 am

And here is how the BBC reports on this good news. No mea culpa or revision of their position just a doubling down of climate change activism.

Reply to  Amac
August 4, 2022 2:58 am
John Garrett
August 4, 2022 3:31 am

Pigs are flying!

For a second day in a row, NPR has noted a study which contradicts NPR’s two-decade long narrative of “climate crisis” and “existential climate risk.”

Damn— next thing you know, they’ll resign from the colossal fraud of “Covering Climate Now.”

August 4, 2022 4:42 am

Surprised ?? No, just talk to Peter Ridd, he was right about the Great Barrier Reef

August 4, 2022 5:24 am

James Cook and Central Queensland Universities have issued unreserved apologies to Peter Ridd and Jennifer Marohasey.
Oz bureaucracies have become world experts in apologizing.

John Garrett
Reply to  toorightmate
August 4, 2022 7:20 am


James Cook and Central Queensland Universities have issued unreserved apologies to Peter Ridd and Jennifer Marohasey….

I am unable to locate a source for that.

I’d like to believe it but…

Can you provide a link?

Reply to  John Garrett
August 4, 2022 9:20 am

I believe that was written in sarcasm font. (Or at least that was the way I took it because there is no way those alarmist institutions will ever admit being wrong about anything except the possibility they could be wrong!)

John Garrett
Reply to  OweninGA
August 4, 2022 10:23 am


I suspected it was sarcasm but on the off-chance that somebody at one of those universities discovered a conscience, I thought I ought to double-check.

Alan M
August 4, 2022 6:16 am

Just spent 9 days on the Ningaloo reef (on the west coast), brilliant and also looking great 👍

Reply to  Alan M
August 4, 2022 7:35 pm

Good news but the UN is not interested, Ningaloo does not have the tourist attraction focus of the Great Barrier Reef so the latter is preferred for blackmail purposes, cooperate or tourism could be damaged.

Alan M
Reply to  Dennis
August 5, 2022 5:38 am

Kinda glad the UN isn’t interested and Ningaloo is not the tourist attraction of the GBR, although the area was humming, the whales were breaching, dolphins cruising etc etc. We were camped less than 50 m from the water and snorkelled almost every day with at max another 10 people 😀

Paul Hurley (aka PaulH)
August 4, 2022 6:25 am

The next headline…?

Global Warming Causes Runaway Coral Expansion


Reply to  Paul Hurley (aka PaulH)
August 4, 2022 8:22 am

.Causes Runaway Sea Level Rise!

August 4, 2022 6:29 am

Chris Kenny gets stuck into the Canberra delusionals as the Lower House passes the 43% reduction by 2030 Bill-
Politicians choose climate ‘delusion’ over making practical change: Kenny (
So that’s 5.4% per annum reduction of fossil fuel use but there’s only 5 months left of this year so they have to get a wriggle on.

The missus like so many women is a bit of a fan but I’m not for changing. So I put to her if I’m not reducing my share she’ll have to go on a 2% reduction per month for the rest of the year to cover our household meeting this target. Trust me this climate changing kick is all emotional-
Strippette: Sherman’s Lagoon: “Is it something I said?”

Ireneusz Palmowski
August 4, 2022 7:13 am

Still low probability of tropical cyclones on the Great Barrier Reef. Apparent increase in SOI.
More rainfall in Australia.
Why Fiji’s sea level is rising as SOI rises.

Gordon A. Dressler
August 4, 2022 7:30 am

I guess the “rebound” in the health of coral along the Great Barrier reef also pretty much rules out alarmist claims that ocean “acidification” resulting from higher atmospheric CO2 levels (i.e., formation of carbonic acid) is causing the widespread death of coral around the world.

Such a great alarmist theory . . . so wrong a theory, as anyone who understands the world’s oceans are highly buffered to remain on the basic side of pH already knew.

August 4, 2022 7:35 am

When anyone that isn’t a fully indoctrinated leftwit Commie/Fascist see’s this imaginary “climate changing too much” crisis then wake me. If we had a real environmental crisis happening WE COULD ALL SEE IT instead of only the Commie/Fascists seeing it.

FU Commie/Fascist leftwits. FU forever and ever….

August 4, 2022 7:55 am

We can’t just say: “We don’t know what the hell’s going on here!” can we?

August 4, 2022 8:02 am

Not coral, but mangroves and sea level drop during El Nino.

“Researchers have identified a 40cm drop in sea levels that lasted about six months as the cause of the catastrophic death of 40 million mangroves in the north of Australia in 2016.
James Cook University said the deaths of the mangroves along 2000km of coastline in northern Australia’s remote Gulf of Carpentaria happened during a period when there was an unusually strong El Niño climate pattern.”

“Dr. Adam Canning, another researcher from James Cook, said the evidence for sea-level drop being the cause was found in the discovery of an earlier, previously undetected mass dieback in 1982, that could be seen in satellite imagery.
“The 1982 dieback also coincided with an unusually extreme drop in sea level during another very severe El Niño event. We know from satellite data that the mangroves took at least 15 years to recover from that dieback,” he said.”

Reply to  Edim
August 4, 2022 8:14 am

Yes, El Nino is correlated with sea level drop in western Pacific.
comment image
(c) Correlation map between SLAs and Niño-3.4 index.

August 4, 2022 8:02 am

All ==> Eric missed the money quotes from the article:

“The northern and central sections of the reef have the highest levels of coral cover recorded in 36 years of monitoring by the Australian Institute of Marine Science.
However coral cover has declined in the southern section, mainly due to ongoing outbreaks of crown-of-thorns starfish.”

Gary Pearse
August 4, 2022 3:40 pm

Like the rest of climate, the reef is Whack a Moley science.Climate research for two decades has been completely guided by reaction to potent sceptic criticism. The Medieval Warm Period – even Climategate emails discussed how good it would be to “disappear” the MWP and the cold LIA. These periods underscored Natural Climate Variability amplitude of ~2°C which sceptics had been hitting Climateers over the head with. Hence the audacious Hockey Stick Climate ushered in by Michael Mann, disappearing both.

When Dreaded Pause of almost 2 decades hung in there like a wrecking ball being swung by sceptics and actually caused what became known as The Climate Blues, a depression neurosis that actually terminated the careers of a number of climate scientists! The fact CO2 was galloping and still is clearly sewed niggling doubts. Well Karl, an NOAA doctrinaire type, wrote a paper justifying ‘correcting’ the Pause out of existence on the eve of his retirement.

In the GBR bleaching- same thing. Cook U fired a a prof for criticizing sloppy research and faulty conclusions on the reef leading to a world publicized court case. Jennifer Morohasy began diving and filming healthy reefs where they were said to be dead or dying. She produced a film or two, wrote extensively illustrated articles
on the reef and then organized dives for young people at a number fo locations along the length of the reef. The doomsters, with the light shining over their shoulders, of course! discovered the miraculous recovery of the reef! Chalk another one up for sceptics.

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