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Hard coral spawning at Lizard Island National Park, Great Barrier Reef, Queensland, Australia. Photo: Auscape/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

The annual massive coral spawning of Australia's Great Barrier Reef is underway.

Why it matters: Scientists are concerned that recent severe bleaching at the world’s largest coral reef may limit the size of the phenomenon, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation reports. The health status of the World Heritage-listed ecosystem has worsened from "significant concern" to "critical" for the first time, a new report finds.

A tweet previously embedded here has been deleted or was tweeted from an account that has been suspended or deleted.
  • Climate change at the reef is driving ocean warming, acidification and extreme weather, contributing to "dramatic coral decline, and as a result decreasing populations of marine species," notes the report, published by UNESCO advisory body the International Union for Conservation of Nature Wednesday.
  • Professor Terry Hughes, who co-authored a study released in October finding the reef has lost over half of its coral populations in the past three decades because of ocean warming, told the Australian ABC: "Dead corals don't breed."

What to watch: James Cook University researcher Katie Chartrand told the news outlet that she and colleagues have been conducting "large-scale larval seeding using these inflatable nursery systems" and will check on their progress in January.

  • "In favour of corals this year is the La Niña event," she said. "So there is a strong chance that they're going to get a reprieve from [bleaching]."

Go deeper: Scientists discover reef that's taller than the Empire State Building

Go deeper

Over 60,000 koalas killed or harmed by Australia's "black summer" fires

A koala and her joey during rehabilitation at Taronga Zoo in Sydney after a bushfire ravaged their habitat in the Blue Mountains west of Sydney in the Australian of New South Wales in January 13. Photo: Cole Bennetts/The Sydney Morning Herald via Getty Images

Australia's "'black summer" bushfires killed, wounded or displaced 143 million mammals — including over 61,000 koalas, per a report published Monday

Why it matters: Koalas in New South Wales and Queensland were in "rapid decline" before last summer's fires ravaged the states, per a statement from Dermot O'Gorman, CEO of WWF-Australia, which commissioned the research. It's "a deeply disturbing number for a species already in trouble," he added.

CCP releases two jailed Canadians after Huawei CFO deal with DOJ

Photo: Sheldon Cooper/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Two Canadians imprisoned by the Chinese government for over 1,000 days have been released and are expected to arrive in Canada on Saturday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Friday.

Why it matters: Their release comes hours after Huawei Technologies CFO Meng Wanzhou reached a deal with the U.S. Department of Justice that resolves the criminal charges against her and could pave the way for her to return to China.

Updated 19 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Arizona GOP's private recount of 2020 election confirms Biden's win

Contractors working on behalf of the GOP examine and recount 2020 ballots at Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Phoenix in May. Photo: Courtney Pedroza/Getty Images

In an odd coda to the 2020 election, private contractors conducting a GOP-commissioned recount in Arizona confirmed President Biden’s win in Maricopa County.

Why it matters: The unofficial, party-driven recount has been heavily covered on cable news as part of former President Trump's continued effort to sow doubt about the election result.

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