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Coral reef bleaching in the Coral Triangle

PI: Laurie Menviel
Institution: University of Hawaii
Abstract:
Mass coral bleaching, linked to global warming, has affected coral reefs over thousands of square kilometers and resulted in mortality in excess of 90% on some reefs. Such climate induced warming events are forcing marine protected area managers to reassess and adapt their conservation strategies. Managers need new tools to identify coral communities at low risk of succumbing to thermal stress both to protect existing marine protected areas, and to guide decisions about the location and design of new MPAs. In an attempt to provide such tools, this project aims to use available data from remote sensing and other monitoring systems to generate maps through the use of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) of the Coral Triangle indicating reefs of higher and lower thermal stress now and projected into the future. The project will also analyze historical and future projected SSTs using general circulation models to assess reef hot spots and cool spots. GIS maps of reef vulnerabilty will provide marine conservation planners with a tool to help identify coral reefs for conservation purposes that are well positioned to survive climate-related increases in temperature. In addition, the maps and reports generated will be used to inform policy makers of the need to take immediate action to address climate change on local, national, and global levels.
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