Brisbane, March 16 (IANS) Australia’s Great Barrier Reef can be saved only if urgent steps are taken to reduce global warming, a new research revealed on Thursday.

Attempting to stop coral bleaching through any other method will not be sufficient, according to the research, published in the journal Nature.

It said bleaching events should no longer be studied individually, but as threats to the reef’s survival, the BBC reported.

The bleaching – or loss of algae – in 2016 was the worst on record.

“Climate change is the single greatest threat to the Great Barrier Reef,” said co-author professor Morgan Pratchett, from Queensland’s James Cook University.

“It all comes down to what the governments in Australia and around the world do in terms of mitigating further rises in temperatures.”

Pratchett said he remained optimistic the reef could recover, but the “window of opportunity” to curb emissions was closing.

“It’s the number one thing we need to think about now to save the reef,” he told the BBC.

The reef – a vast collection of thousands of smaller coral reefs stretching from the northern tip of Queensland to the state’s city of Bundaberg – was given World Heritage status in 1981.

The UN says it is the “most biodiverse” of all the World Heritage sites, and of “enormous scientific and intrinsic importance”.