Impacts and Recovery from Severe Tropical Cyclone Yasi on the Great Barrier Reef

Abstract : Full recovery of coral reefs from tropical cyclone (TC) damage can take decades, making cyclones a major driver of habitat condition where they occur regularly. Since 1985, 44 TCs generated gale force winds (17 metres/second) within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park (GBRMP). Of the hurricane strength TCs (H1—Saffir Simpson scale; category 3 Australian scale), TC Yasi (February, 2011) was the largest. In the weeks after TC Yasi crossed the GBRMP, participating researchers, managers and rangers assessed the extent and severity of reef damage via 841 Reef Health and Impact Surveys at 70 reefs. Records were scaled into five damage levels representing increasingly widespread colony-level damage (1, 2, 3) and reef structural damage (4, 5). Average damage severity was significantly affected by direction (north vs south of the cyclone track), reef shelf position (mid-shelf vs outer-shelf) and habitat type. More outer-shelf reefs suffered structural damage than mid-shelf reefs within 150 km of the track. Structural damage spanned a greater latitudinal range for mid-shelf reefs than outer-shelf reefs (400 vs 300 km). Structural damage was patchily distributed at all distances, but more so as distance from the track increased. Damage extended much further from the track than during other recent intense cyclones that had smaller circulation sizes. Just over 15% (3,834 km 2) of the total reef area of the GBRMP is estimat
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Roger Beeden, Jeffrey Maynard, Marjetta Puotinen, Paul Marshall, Jen Dryden, et al.. Impacts and Recovery from Severe Tropical Cyclone Yasi on the Great Barrier Reef. PLoS ONE, Public Library of Science, 2015, ⟨10.1371/journal.pone.0121272⟩. ⟨hal-01223327⟩

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