Chapter Three

The Global Reef

The Wreck of the SS Yongala

Each day, the Great Barrier Reef is subjected to ever changing weather patterns. Ocean currents arrive from the Coral Sea in the East, bringing nutrients up from the deep ocean and splitting at the wall of coral on the edge of the continental shelf. Trade winds arrive from the east, occasionally spiralling into violent cyclones that batter coral reefs leaving a trail of destruction in their wake. In this section, we'll explore the weather and climate patterns which shape and impact the reef, and we'll discover how one reef in particular is a shining example of just how resilient reef ecosystems can be — at the wreck of the SS Yongala.

Watching the climate change

The resolution and speed with which global weather data can now be aquired is truly remarkable. Using data from the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration we can get a snapshot of global weather patterns every three hours. With this ability, we can compare today's conditions to those of the past and see abnormally high temperatures and severe weather events becoming the norm.

Launch the globe

Next Chapter

The Future Reef
Heron Island

Tour a research station at the cutting edge of reef science

David Attenborough's Great Barrier Reef ©Atlantic Productions 2018

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Explore the Reef
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