Ocean Skeletons Reveal Historical Climate Impacts

First Posted: May 17, 2019 11:42 AM EDT

A limiting factor in projecting where coral reefs will survive under 21st-century climate change is a lack of quantitative data on the thermal thresholds of different reef communities.

Researchers studied skeletal stress bands on corals to reconstruct the history of bleaching on eight reefs in the central equatorial Pacific and use this information to better understand the thermal thresholds of their coral communities.

Results showed the most thermally tolerant reefs in the study (Jarvis and Kanton Islands) experienced 50 percent bleaching at seven to nine times more thermal stress than did the least resistant reef in the study (Maiana Island).

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