Cyclone Debbie is the tenth severe category cyclone to affect the Great Barrier Reef since 2005, sprinkled amongst plenty of other regular tropical cyclones as the Bureau of Meteorology’s cyclone history shows.
However, past experience has shown the resilience of the reef ecosystem in the face of these weather events according to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority’s Dr David Wachenfeld.
“We have generally seen in the past if you give a reef enough time it will bounce back,” Dr Wachenfeld said in an interview with The Australian newspaper.
“You will see it start in five years, and after 10 there will be well advanced recovery, and within 20 years arguably the reef will be back to where it was.
“The system is showing resilience and the most impressive thing we can draw on in recent history is Cyclone Hamish, which did horrific damage to reefs in the southern third of the marine park in 2009 and there is good strong recovery.
“The issue is we know coral reefs will generally bounce back from impacts, but that isn’t limitless.
“Eventually the resilience runs out and the risk with climate change is the reefs we used to think of as resilient because we have seen them bounce back in the past, aren’t going to bounce back the way they have.”