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Coral bleaching pathways under the control of regional temperature variability

Langlais, CE, Lenton, AA, Heron, SF, Evenhuis, C, Sen Gupta, A, Brown, JN and Kuchinke, M 2017 , 'Coral bleaching pathways under the control of regional temperature variability' , Nature Climate Change, vol. 7, no. 11 , pp. 839-844 , doi: 10.1038/NCLIMATE3399.

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Abstract

Increasing sea surface temperatures (SSTs) are predicted to adversely impact coral populations worldwide through increasing thermal bleaching events. Future bleaching is unlikely to be spatially uniform. Therefore, understanding what determines regional differences will be critical for adaptation management. Here, using a cumulative heat stress metric, we show that characteristics of regional SST determine the future bleaching risk patterns. Incorporating observed information on SST variability, in assessing future bleaching risk, provides novel options for management strategies. As a consequence, the known biases in climate model variability and the uncertainties in regional warming rate across climate models are less detrimental than previously thought. We also show that the thresholds used to indicate reef viability can strongly influence a decision on what constitutes a potential refugia. Observing and understanding the drivers of regional variability, and the viability limits of coral reefs, is therefore critical for making meaningful projections of coral bleaching risk.

Item Type: Article
Authors/Creators:Langlais, CE and Lenton, AA and Heron, SF and Evenhuis, C and Sen Gupta, A and Brown, JN and Kuchinke, M
Keywords: adaptive management, climate modeling, coral bleaching, environmental impact assessment, global warming
Journal or Publication Title: Nature Climate Change
Publisher: Nature Publishing Group
ISSN: 1758-678X
DOI / ID Number: 10.1038/NCLIMATE3399
Copyright Information:

Copyright 2017 Macmillan Publishers Limited, part of Springer Nature

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