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>> Devastation sweeping the world's largest living ecosystem. Australia's Great Barrier Reef under threat from warm waters fueled by climate change. Scientists on Monday releasing the latest report on how bad things are getting. From the middle of the reef north, they say 35% of coral has been destroyed by a phenomenon called bleaching, which is way more severe than first thought.
As Reuters' Jane Wardell explains once it sets in there's a real chance the coral's gone for good.>> Coral bleaching occurs when the water surrounding the reef warms significantly. And what happens is that algae living within the coral is expelled and thus, the coral is left to calcify and it is effectively bleached and turned white.
Once it has reached a severe level, there's not much you can do at all. The coral will die.>> One of the strongest El Nino systems in 20 years has made bleaching worse across the globe. But scientists believe ongoing climate change is the underlying cause. Monday's report comes just days after news broke that Australia pressured the UN to keep the Great Barrier Reef off a recent environmental damage report.
>> That report was looking at the impact of climate change and how that had affected these sites. And Australian scientists are very angry that Australia was not included on this, given the amount of damage that is occurring to the reef. Any damage to the Great Barrier Reef is a major issue for Australia given that it represents about $5 billion worth of tourism every year.
>> Last year the UN stopped short of listing the reef as endangered.>> Scientists say the latest numbers could force it to reconsider that call.>>