The Stream, February 19: Great Barrier Reef at Risk of Bleaching Due to Freshwater Plumes from Queensland Flooding

The Global Rundown

The Great Barrier Reef is at risk of coral bleaching in the wake of the Queensland, Australia, floods. Independent testing finds lead levels in Flint, Michigan, are below the federal action level. The Sea of Galilee reaches a 2-year high amid a rainy winter in Israel. Eight miners are found alive following deadly mine floods last week in Zimbabwe. A scientific panel blames over-extraction and drought for recent fish kills along the Murray-Darling river system.

“The conditions leading to this event are an interaction between a severe (but not unprecedented) drought and, more significantly, excess upstream diversion of water for irrigation.” A report by the Australian Academy of Science in reference to three major fish kills along the Murray-Darling river system. The December and January kills left up to one million fish dead, and water levels in river system are continuing to drop. Experts warn that “the Darling will die” unless water flows are rapidly restored. The Guardian

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By The Numbers

22 Zimbabwean gold miners found dead after floods inundated mines west of Harare last week. Eight other miners have been found alive. Authorities estimate that around 70 illegal gold panners were in the mines when the floods struck. Reuters

1.405 meters (4.6 feet) Amount that the Sea of Galilee has risen this winter, putting it at a 2-year high. A long-awaited wet winter has helped ease drought conditions across Israel. The Times of Israel

Science, Studies, And Reports

Independent testing of water quality in Flint, Michigan, revealed that the majority of homes in the city have lead levels below the federal action level. The testing, which was supervised by professors from Michigan State University and the University of Notre Dame, corroborates city and independent test results from last year. MLive

In context: Circle of Blue’s coverage of the Flint water crisis.

On The Radar

Freshwater plumes from the recent flooding disaster in Queensland, Australia, could cause bleaching to the Great Barrier Reef, experts warn. In many areas, water salinity levels are almost half their usual level due the extensive flooding. Scientists say they are also monitoring chemical content and wind conditions, two other factors that could contribute to bleaching. The Guardian

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