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Heatwaves kill coral reefs far faster than thought: study

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Marine heatwaves are killing coral reefs far more quickly than previously believed, according to a new study released on Friday.

Scientists have known that rising sea temperatures blamed on global warming can severely damage reefs through a process of “bleaching,” where the high temperatures kill the colourful algae covering and nourishing coral.

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Repeated “bleaching events”, such as ones which hit Australia’s Great Barrier Reef in 2016 and 2017, can eventually kill the coral in a process which takes months or years.

If sea temperatures ease, bleached corals are able to regenerate.

But the new study found that severe marine heatwaves can actually degrade the skeletal structure of the coral, potentially killing the organisms in a matter of days or weeks.

“The severity of these heatwave events is beyond the bleaching process, it’s actually a point where the coral animal itself is dying,” said Tracy Ainsworth, a co-author of the study from the University of New South Wales.

The study, which also involved researchers from the University of Newcastle in Britain, Australia’s James Cook University, the University of Technology Sydney and the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, used CT scans of coral reefs to monitor the impact of extreme temperatures.

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Scott Heron from James Cook University said the rapid dissolving of coral skeletons after severe heatwaves came as a surprise.

“Climate scientists talk about ‘unknown unknowns’ — impacts that we haven’t anticipated from existing knowledge and experience,” he said.

“This discovery fits into this category. As we begin now to understand this impact, the question is how many more of these ‘unknown unknowns’ might there still be that could bring faster and greater damage to coral reefs from climate change,” he said.

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Coral bleaching in 2016-2017 affected up to half of the coral in the 2,300-kilometre (1,400-mile) reef, a UN-listed World Heritage site off the east coast of Australia.


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Large fires in Philadelphia — as police scramble to save City Hall

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Protests in the City of Brotherly Love resulted in multiple police cares being lit on fire as windows were broken in the town's iconic City Hall.

Anti-police violence protests have erupted across America following the killing of George Floyd while in police custody in Minneapolis.

Here are some of the scenes from the Philadelphia protests:

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Trump Tower is ‘under siege’ as Chicago Police make arrests to defend the president’s building

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Protesters marched on Trump Tower in Chicago on Saturday, as Chicago police in riot gear and on horses defend the president's building.

State police were deployed to the scene to back up local police, who are reportedly arresting protesters.

On video showed protesters taking a knee in solidarity with Colin Kaepernick.

Actor John Cusack was among those documenting the protest.

Here are some of the images from the scene:

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George Floyd’s brother tears up discussing condolence phone call from Trump: ‘It hurt me’

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The brother of George Floyd described the condolence phone call he received from President Donald Trump during a Saturday interview on MSNBC.

Philonise Floyd was interviewed by the Rev. Al Sharpton on "Politics Nation."

While Derek Chauvin has been arrested and charged with third degree murder, the other three officers involved in the killing remain free.

"They all need to be convicted of first degree murder and given the death penalty," Floyd said.

"What was the conversation with President Trump like?" Sharpton asked.

"It was so fast," Floyd replied.

"He didn't give me an opportunity to even speak. It was hard, I was trying to talk to him, but he just kept like pushing me off, like 'I don't want to hear what you're talking about.' And I just told him I want justice. I said that I couldn't believe they committed a modern-day lynching in broad daylight."

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