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Inconsistent coral bleaching risk indicators between temperature data sources

Neo, V. H. F., Zinke, J., Fung, T., Merchant, C. J. ORCID:, Zawada, K. J. A., Krawczyk, H. and Maina, J. M. (2023) Inconsistent coral bleaching risk indicators between temperature data sources. Earth and Space Science, 10 (7). e2022EA002688. ISSN 2333-5084

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1029/2022EA002688


Coral reefs are facing severe threats and are at risk of accelerated decline due to climate change-induced changes in their environment. Ongoing efforts to understand the mechanisms of coral response to warming rely on multiple sources of temperature data. Yet, it remains uncertain whether the Sea Surface Temperature (SST) data used for coral reef studies are consistent among different data products, despite potential implications for conservation. A better understanding of the consistency among the different SST data applied to coral reefs may facilitate the fusion of data into a standard product. This will improve monitoring and understanding of the impact of global warming on coral reefs. Four types of SST data across North-Western and South-Western Australia are compared to assess their differences and ability to observe high thermal stress during historical coral bleaching events. The four SST data sources included those derived from Global Circulation Models, NOAA CoralTemp SST product, ESA CCI SST product, and coral core derived SST. Coral bleaching risk indicators, Degree Heating Week (DHW), and Degree Heating Month (DHM) were calculated using these sources and compared for consistency. DHW and DHM were inconsistent among data sets and did not accurately reflect high thermal stress metrics during moderate and severe bleaching events. Some reefs did not experience bleaching in spite of high DHWs and DHMs, suggesting a mismatch in data scales, or perhaps other oceanographic factors and coral adaptation. By exploring the differences and similarities among these four data sources, this study highlights the need to compare existing indicators of thermal stress from different data sets.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Science > School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Sciences > National Centre for Earth Observation (NCEO)
Science > School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Sciences > Department of Meteorology
ID Code:112428
Publisher:American Geophysical Union


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