Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Scientists create new maps depicting potential worldwide coral bleaching by 2056

New maps show how rising sea temperatures are likely to affect all coral reefs in the form of annual coral bleaching events under different emission scenarios

In a study published today in Nature Climate Change researchers used the latest emissions scenarios and climate models to show how varying levels of carbon emissions are likely to result in more frequent and severe coral bleaching events.

In a new article in Nature Climate Change scientists from NOAA's Cooperative Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Studies show maps that illustrate how rising sea temperatures are likely to affect all coral reefs, including those in Polynesia, in the form of annual coral bleaching events under various different emission scenarios. Their results emphasize that without significant reductions in emissions most coral reefs on the planet are at risk for bleaching within the next several decades.

Credit: Thomas Vignaud

Large-scale 'mass' bleaching events on coral reefs are caused by higher-than-normal sea temperatures. High temperatures make light toxic to the algae that reside within the corals. The algae, called 'zooxanthellae', provide food and give corals their bright colors. When the algae are expelled or retained but in low densities, the corals can starve and eventually die. Bleaching events caused a reported 16 percent loss of the world's coral reefs in 1998 according to the Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network.

If carbon emissions stay on the current path most of the world's coral reefs (74 percent) are projected to experience coral bleaching conditions annually by 2045, results of the study show. The study used climate model ensembles from the upcoming Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Around a quarter of coral reefs are likely to experience bleaching events annually five or more years earlier than the median year, and these reefs in northwestern Australia, Papau New Guinea, and some equatorial Pacific islands like Tokelau, may require urgent attention, researchers warn.

"Coral reefs in parts of the western Indian Ocean, French Polynesia and the southern Great Barrier Reef, have been identified as temporary refugia from rising sea surface temperatures," said Ruben van Hooidonk, Ph.D., from the Cooperative Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Studies (CIMAS) at the University of Miami and NOAA's Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory. "These locations are not projected to experience bleaching events annually until five or more years later than the median year of 2040, with one reef location in the Austral Islands of French Polynesia protected from the onset of annual coral bleaching conditions until 2056."

The findings emphasize that without significant reductions in emissions most coral reefs are at risk, according to the study. A reduction of carbon emissions would delay annual bleaching events more than two decades in nearly a quarter (23 percent) of the world's reef areas, the research shows.

"Our projections indicate that nearly all coral reef locations would experience annual bleaching later than 2040 under scenarios with lower greenhouse gas emissions." said Jeffrey Maynard, Ph.D., from the Centre de Recherches Insulaires et Observatoire de l'Environnement (CRIOBE) in Moorea, French Polynesia. "For 394 reef locations (of 1707 used in the study) this amounts to at least two more decades in which some reefs might conceivably be able to improve their capacity to adapt to the projected changes."

"More so than any result to date, this highlights and quantifies the potential benefits for reefs of reducing emissions in terms of reduced exposure to stressful reef temperatures."

"This study represents the most up-to-date understanding of spatial variability in the effects of rising temperatures on coral reefs on a global scale," said researcher Serge Planes, Ph.D., also from the French research institute CRIOBE in French Polynesia.

The researchers involved in the study all concur that projections that combine the threats posed to reefs by increases in sea temperature and ocean acidification will further resolve where temporary refugia may exist.

The study was funded by the Pacific Islands Climate Change Cooperative based in Hawaii, the U.S. National Research Council and CNRS.

AOML, a federal research laboratory, is part of NOAA's Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research, located in Miami, Fla. AOML's research spans hurricanes, coastal ecosystems, oceans and human health, climate studies, global carbon systems, and ocean observations. For more information, please visit http:/

CIMAS is a research institute based at the University of Miami, within the Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science. It serves as a mechanism to bring together the research resources of nine major public and private research universities in Florida and the U.S. Caribbean with those of NOAA in order to develop a Center of Excellence that is relevant to understanding the Earth's oceans and atmosphere within the context of NOAA's mission. For more information, please visit

Barbra Gonzalez | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Invasive Insects Cost the World Billions Per Year
04.10.2016 | University of Adelaide

nachricht Malaysia's unique freshwater mussels in danger
27.09.2016 | The University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia

21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine

Stanford researchers create new special-purpose computer that may someday save us billions

21.10.2016 | Information Technology

From ancient fossils to future cars

21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>