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Oceans: Coral Seas

This month on Newsdesk: A growing threat to coral reefs, a new theory about volcanic eruptions, and keeping the ISS infection-free.

The Great Barrier Reef in Australia is the world’s largest coral reef. Scientists are now warning that high temperatures have led to widespread coral bleaching.

Corals have microscopic algae living inside them. The coral and the algae depend on each other to survive, and it’s the algae that give the coral their colour.

However, unusually high temperatures can stress the coral, causing it to spit out the algae, and lose its colour!

Coral reefs can recover from mild bleaching, but when large parts of them are bleached, they’re more likely to die. And with climate change making high temperatures more common, scientists are demanding urgent action to protect the incredible Great Barrier Reef.

A new theory about volcanic eruptions

In 2018 Kīlauea volcano, on the island of Hawai’i, erupted. A group of scientists has a new theory about what caused the eruption  –  they say it was triggered by heavy rain.

In the months before the eruption, there was more rain than usual on Hawai’i. The rainwater sank deep into the island’s rocky ground. The theory is that the water weakened the rock, allowing magma below the volcano to break through and erupt as lava!

However, other scientists aren’t so sure. They point out that Hawai’i has experienced heavy rain at other times, without an eruption. So, more research is now needed to find out whether the new theory is correct.

Keeping the ISS infection-free

US astronaut Chris Cassidy has blasted off and boarded the International Space Station. Before travelling into space, Chris spent four weeks in quarantine with two Russian colleagues.

During quarantine, they were separated from most other people to make sure they didn’t pick up any infections.

All astronauts go through quarantine before boarding the ISS. After all, getting sick in space can be risky – there are limited medical supplies, and it’s difficult to return to Earth in an emergency.

This time, due to the coronavirus pandemic, the quarantine was longer than normal. Thankfully, Chris and his colleagues remained healthy. They’ll now spend six months on the ISS, doing scientific research!

Discover why healthy coral seas are the most colourful and diverse in the world with our film: Oceans: Coral Seas