Ecosystems are the dynamic interactions between plants, animals and microorganisms, and their environment working together as a functional unit. The Great Barrier Reef, an ecosystem that is particularly at risk, is a long, narrow system that stretches for 2000km along the northeast Australian coast. The formation of this ecosystem is attributed to the dynamics of weather and climate, and the geomorphic, hydrologic and Biogeographical processes within the region.
The atmospheric processes encountered within the Great Barrier Reef are ultimately responsible for shaping the reef ecosystem. The reef, which lies within Australia’s cyclone zone, is subject to the impacts of cyclones throughout the Australian tropical cyclone season, which extends from the months of November to April. The intensity and duration of these intense low-pressure systems ultimately determines the level of damage inflicted upon the coral. These cyclones are not only associated with strong winds that generate large storm waves that rip apart the softer corals and chip the hard corals, but also bring with them large volumes of rain, which alter the salinity and turbidity levels within the waters. This ecosystem experiences relatively warm temperatures, which range from an average maximum of 30˚C in January and 23˚C in July, and an average minimum of 24˚C in January and 18˚C in July, and an increase of even just a few degrees Celsius can have detrimental impacts on this environment. It is understood that Tropical Cyclone Larry, which crossed the reef on March 2006, surprisingly benefited the reef ecosystem as it led to a reduction in water temperature, which in turn prevented a coral bleaching event that was predicted due to a rise in sea surface temperatures. Hence, the climate and weather systems present