Coral reefs harbor remarkable levels of biodiversity, yet also face unprecedented declines due to marine heat waves and resulting mass coral bleaching and mortality events.
A Newcastle University-led study focused on the Pacific Island nation of Palau and has shown that historic increases in the thermal tolerance of coral reefs are possible. The results demonstrate how this capacity could reduce future bleaching impacts if global carbon emissions are cut down.
Drawing on decades of field observations, the scientists modeled many possible future coral bleaching trajectories for Palauan reefs, each with a different simulated rate of thermal tolerance enhancement. They found that if coral thermal tolerance continues to rise throughout the 21st century at the most-likely historic rate, significant reductions in bleaching impacts are possible.