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Loss of coral reef growth capacity to track future increases in sea level / Chris T. Perry, Lorenzo Alvarez-Filip, Nicholas A. J. Graham, Peter J. Mumby, Shaun K. Wilson, Paul S. Kench, Derek P. Manzello, Kyle M. Morgan, Aimee B. A. Slangen, Damian P. Thomson, Fraser Januchowski-Hartley, Scott G. Smithers, Robert S. Steneck, Renee Carlton, Evan N. Edinger, Ian C. Enochs, Nuria Estrada-Saldívar, Michael D. E. Haywood, Graham Kolodziej, Gary N. Murphy, Esmeralda Pérez-Cervantes, Adam Suchley, Lauren Valentino, Robert Boenish, Margaret Wilson, Chancey Macdonald
Nature, Volume: 558, Issue: 7710, Pages: 396 - 400
Swansea University Author: Fraser Januchowski-Hartley
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Water-depths above coral reefs is predicted to increase due to global sea-level rise (SLR). As ecological degradation inhibits the vertical accretion of coral reefs, it is likely that coastal wave exposure will increase but there currently exists a lack of data in projections concerning local rates...
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Water-depths above coral reefs is predicted to increase due to global sea-level rise (SLR). As ecological degradation inhibits the vertical accretion of coral reefs, it is likely that coastal wave exposure will increase but there currently exists a lack of data in projections concerning local rates of reef growth and local SLR. In this study we have aggregated ecological data of more than 200 tropical western Atlantic and Indian Ocean reefs and calculated their vertical growth which we have then compared with recent and projected rates of SLR across different Representative Concentration Pathway (RCP) scenarios. While many reefs currently show vertical growth that would be sufficient to keep-up with recent historic SLR, future projections under scenario RCP4.5 reveal that without substantial ecological recovery many reefs will not have the capacity to track SLR. Under RCP8.5, we predict that mean water depth will increase by over half a metre by 2100 across the majority of reefs. We found that coral cover strongly predicted whether a reef could track SLR, but that the majority of reefs had coral cover significantly lower than that required to prevent reef submergence. To limit reef submergence, and thus the impacts of waves and storms on adjacent coasts, climate mitigation and local impacts that reduce coral cover (e.g., local pollution and physical damage through development land reclamation) will be necessary.
coral reef; climate change; sea level rise
College of Science