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Surviving bleached Barrier Reef coral ‘more resilient to heat’

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Corals on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef that survived bleaching from rising sea temperatures were more resistant to another bout of hot conditions the following year, scientists said Tuesday, a “silver lining” for the embattled ecosystem.

The 2,300-kilometre (1,400-mile) long UNESCO World Heritage-listed reef off Australia’s northeastern coast was hit by back-to-back bleaching in 2016 and 2017.

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Bleaching occurs when abnormal environmental conditions, such as warmer sea temperatures, cause corals to expel tiny photosynthetic algae, draining them of their colour.

Corals can recover if the water temperature drops and the algae are able to recolonise them.

AFP / Gal ROMAGreat Barrier Reef

Swathes of coral died or were damaged in the unprecedented successive events, particularly the more heat-susceptible branching corals that are shaped like tables.

But Professor Terry Hughes of James Cook University, who has been leading the surveys of bleached corals, found in the latest study, published in Nature Climate Change, that the response of the reef was different between the two years.

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“We were astonished to find less bleaching in 2017, because the temperatures were even more extreme than the year before,” Hughes said.

The northern part of the reef, which was worst-affected in 2016, bleached “much less” in 2017 even though some of the reefs underwent similar levels of heat stress in both summers.

JAMES COOK UNIVERSITY/AFP/File / Tane Sinclair-TaylorCorals on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef that survived bleaching from rising sea temperatures were more resistant to another bout of hot conditions the following year, study shows

In the central regions, the levels of bleaching for both years were observed to be the same, even though the heat exposure was higher in 2017, the researchers said.

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Meanwhile, in the southern region — the least-affected — corals that suffered minor bleaching in the first year showed no bleaching in the second.

“That surprised us, because if the southern corals had behaved the same way in year two as in year one, we should have seen 20 or 30 percent of them bleach, and they didn’t,” Hughes told AFP.

“So it looks like the history of their experience in year one has toughened them up so that they’ve acclimatised to moderate levels in year two of heat exposure… It’s something of a silver lining.”

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Hughes said it was too early to say whether the reef — the world’s largest living structure — could be hit by another bleaching event in early 2019, after a spring heatwave in adjacent Queensland state.

Global coral reefs risk catastrophic die-offs if Earth’s average surface temperature increases two degrees Celsius (36 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels, earlier research has shown.

Coral reefs make up less than one percent of Earth’s marine environment, but are home to an estimated 25 percent of ocean life, acting as nurseries for many species of fish.

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Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. Unlike other news sites, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

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Has anything changed since Burning Man’s sex assault and labor issues were exposed?

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The last weekend in August marks the start of Burning Man, a week-long, festival in the Nevada desert consisting of freewheeling performance art, fanciful costumes, and a lot of drugs. The anarchic party with more than 50,000 attendees constitutes a pilgrimage for many attendees, lured by the promise of leaving the “default world” behind in exchange for a transformative or even spiritual experience.

This article originally appeared at Salon.

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Truckers are facing a ‘bloodbath’ in their industry — and it’s turning many in the pro-Trump group against him: report

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Truckers are numerous, conservative, and hurting. And despite their widespread support for Donald Trump’s candidacy in 2016, a new report from Business Insider suggests the pain in the industry might be turning these workers away from the president.

The political trends in trucking are not insignificant. According to the American Trucking Associations, there were an estimated 3.5 million truck drivers in 2018. RTS Financial has found that there are 7.4 million jobs total “tied to the trucking industry.” And Business Insider reported that nearly 90 percent of truckers are registered voters, higher than the general population.

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WATCH: Trump’s collusion with Russia is now a topic for impeachment — along with obstruction and racism

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President Donald Trump's interactions with Russia are now a topic of the impeachment investigation.

"There was an important development in support for impeachment proceedings in the House of Representatives today," MSNBC anchor Lawrence O'Donnell reported Tuesday. "Important both in who the new support comes from and what that support is based on."

"Congresswoman Lauren Underwood of Illinois is one of the freshmen Democrats who flipped a Republican district last year in winning her election. She brings the total number of House Democrats supporting impeachment now to 126 -- a majority of the Democrats' 235 members of the House," he explained.

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