Episodes of mass coral bleaching have been reported in recent decades and have raised concerns about the future of coral reefs on a warming planet. Despite the efforts to enhance and coordinate coral reef monitoring within and across countries, our knowledge of the geographic extent of mass coral bleaching over the past few decades is incomplete. Existing databases like Reefbase are biased by their voluntary nature and the location of prominent science and/or monitoring programs, thus creating a problem of false negatives. The spatial extent of reported bleaching events is also unclear, as bleaching is reported as a point event (i.e. lat/long coordinates of the field survey). In this project, we have developed the first-ever gridded, global-scale historical coral bleaching database. First, we conducted a targeted search for bleaching reports not included in Reefbase by surveying the academic and grey literature and by personally contacting scientists and divers conducting monitoring in under-reported locations. This search increased the number of observed bleaching reports by 79%, from 4146 to 7429 (through the year 2012). Second, we employed spatially interpolation, using techniques borrowed from species distribution modelling, to develop annual 4 km x 4 km global maps of the probability that bleaching occurred. The database will help the scientific community more accurately assess the change in the frequency of mass coral bleaching events, validate methods of predicting mass coral bleaching, and test whether coral reefs are adjusting to rising ocean temperatures


Donner, S. D., University of British Columbia, Canada, simon.donner@ubc.ca

Rickbeil, G. J., University of British Columbia, Canada, grickbeil@gmail.com

Heron, S. F., Coral Reef Watch, U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, scott.heron@noaa.gov


Oral presentation

Session #:30
Date: 06/20/2016
Time: 18:00
Location: 314

Presentation is given by student: No