Most Coral Reefs At Risk Even if Warming Limited to 2 Degrees C

Most of the world’s coral reefs will likely be subject to long-term degradation even if global warming is limited to 2 degrees Celsius, and as much as one-third of coral reef systems will likely be vulnerable to threats even under the most optimistic climate projections, a new study says. In an analysis of the potential effects of heat stress on coral reef systems under different climate change scenarios, a team of researchers found that most potential outcomes will likely trigger more frequent and intense mass-bleaching events. If global mean temperature increases exceed 2 degrees C, coral reefs “might no longer be prominent coastal ecosystems,” said Katja Frieler, a researcher at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and lead author of the study, published in Nature Climate Change. Under the most optimistic scenarios — including aggressive climate mitigation and assumptions that coral systems can adapt to warming conditions — one third of the world’s coral systems would still be subject to severe degradation, the study said.