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, 318 (5857), 1737-42

Coral Reefs Under Rapid Climate Change and Ocean Acidification


Coral Reefs Under Rapid Climate Change and Ocean Acidification

O Hoegh-Guldberg et al. Science.


Atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration is expected to exceed 500 parts per million and global temperatures to rise by at least 2 degrees C by 2050 to 2100, values that significantly exceed those of at least the past 420,000 years during which most extant marine organisms evolved. Under conditions expected in the 21st century, global warming and ocean acidification will compromise carbonate accretion, with corals becoming increasingly rare on reef systems. The result will be less diverse reef communities and carbonate reef structures that fail to be maintained. Climate change also exacerbates local stresses from declining water quality and overexploitation of key species, driving reefs increasingly toward the tipping point for functional collapse. This review presents future scenarios for coral reefs that predict increasingly serious consequences for reef-associated fisheries, tourism, coastal protection, and people. As the International Year of the Reef 2008 begins, scaled-up management intervention and decisive action on global emissions are required if the loss of coral-dominated ecosystems is to be avoided.

Comment in

  • Thinking outside the reef.
    Peterson EL, Beger M, Richards ZT. Peterson EL, et al. Science. 2008 Mar 28;319(5871):1759. doi: 10.1126/science.319.5871.1759c. Science. 2008. PMID: 18369123 No abstract available.
  • Coral adaptation in the face of climate change.
    Baird A, Maynard JA. Baird A, et al. Science. 2008 Apr 18;320(5874):315-6; author reply 315-6. doi: 10.1126/science.320.5874.315. Science. 2008. PMID: 18420915 No abstract available.

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