Internal tides can provide thermal refugia that will buffer some coral reefs from future global warming.

Curt D Storlazzi, Olivia M Cheriton, Ruben van Hooidonk, Zhongxiang Zhao, Russell Brainard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations

Abstract

Observations show ocean temperatures are rising due to climate change, resulting in a fivefold increase in the incidence of regional-scale coral bleaching events since the 1980s; analyses based on global climate models forecast bleaching will become an annual event for most of the world's coral reefs within 30-50 yr. Internal waves at tidal frequencies can regularly flush reefs with cooler waters, buffering the thermal stress from rising sea-surface temperatures. Here we present the first global maps of the effects these processes have on bleaching projections for three IPCC-AR5 emissions scenarios. Incorporating semidiurnal temperature fluctuations into the projected water temperatures at depth creates a delay in the timing of annual severe bleaching ≥ 10 yr (≥ 20 yr) for 38% (9%), 15% (1%), and 1% (0%) of coral reef sites for the low, moderate, and high emission scenarios, respectively; regional averages can reach twice as high. These cooling effects are greatest later in twenty-first century for the moderate emission scenarios, and around the middle twenty-first century for the highest emission scenario. Our results demonstrate how these effects could delay bleaching for corals, providing thermal refugia. Identification of such areas could be a factor for the selection of coral reef marine protected areas.
Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalScientific reports
Volume10
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 12 2020

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