Authors

C. Mark Eakin, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Jessica A. Morgan, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Scott F. Heron, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; James Cook University - Townsville, Australia
Tyler B. Smith, University of the Virgin Islands
Gang Liu, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Lorenzo Alvarez-Filip, Parque Nacional Arrecifes de Cozumel - Mexico; University of East Anglia - United Kingdom
Bart J. Baca, CSA South Inc.Follow
Erich Bartels, Mote Marine Laboratory
Carolina Bastidas, Universidad Simon Bolivar - Caracas, Venezuela
Claude Bouchon, Universite des Antilles et de la Guyane - France
Marilyn Brandt, University of the Virgin IslandsFollow
Andrew W. Bruckner, Khaled bin Sultan Living Oceans Foundation
Lucy Bunkley-WIlliams, University of Puerto Rico - Mayaguez
Andrew Cameron, Global Vision International and Amigos de Sian Ka'an Asociacion Civil - Mexico
Billy D. Causey, National Oceanic and Atmospheric AdministrationFollow
Mark Chiappone, University of North Carolina - Wilmington
Tyler R. L. Christensen, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
M. James C. Crabbe, University of Bedfordshire - United Kingdom
Owen Day, Buccoo Reef Trust - Trinidad and Tobago
Elena de la Guardia, Universidad de la Habana - Cuba
Guillermo Diaz-Pulido, Universidad de Magdalena - Colombia; Griffith University - Australia
Daniel DiResta, University of Miami
Diego L. Gil-Agudelo, Instituto de Investigaciones Marineas y Costeras - Colombia
David S. Gilliam, Nova Southeastern UniversityFollow
Robert N. Ginsburg, University of Miami
Shannon Gore, Conservation and Fisheries Department - British Virgin Islands, United Kingdom
Hector M. Guzman, Smithsonian Institution
James C. Hendee, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Edwin A. Hernandez-Delgado, University of Puerto Rico - San Juan
Ellen Husain, University of Exeter - United Kingdom
Christopher F. G. Jeffrey, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Ross J. Jones, Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences - United Kingdom
Eric Jordan-Dahlgren, Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico
Les S. Kaufman, Boston University
David I. Kline, University of Queensland, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute - Panama
Philip A. Kramer, The Nature Conservancy - Florida
Judith C. Lang, Ocean Research and Education Foundation Inc.
Diego Lirman, University of Miami
Jennie Mallela, University of the West Indies St. Augustine - Trinidad and Tobago, Australian National University - Canberra
Carrie Manfrino, Central Caribbean Marine Institute and Kean University
Jean-Philippe Marechal, Observatoire du Milieu Marin Martiniquais - France
Ken Marks, Ocean Research and Education Foundation Inc.
Jennifer Mihaly, Pacific Palisades
W. Jeff Miller, Virgin Islands National Park
Erich M. Mueller, Perry Institute for Marine Science
Erinn M. Muller, Florida Institute of Technology
Carlos A. Orozco Toro, Corporacion para el Desarrollo Sostenible del Archipielago de San Andres - Colombia
Hazel A. Oxenford, University of the West Indies - Barbados
Daniel Ponce-Taylor, Global Vision International and Amigos de Sian Ka'an Asociacion Civil - Mexico
Norman Quinn, St. Croix East End Marine Park - US Virgin Islands
Kim B. Ritchie, Mote Marine Laboratory
Sebastian Rodriguez, Universidad Simon Bolivar - Venezuela
Alberto Rodriguez Ramirez, Instituto de Investigaciones Marineas y Costeras - Colombia
Sandra Romano, University of the Virgin Islands
Jameal F. Samhouri, University of California - Los Angeles
Juan A. Sanchez, Universidad de Los Andes - Colombia
George P. Schmahl, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Burton V. Shank, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
William J. Skirving, NOAA Coral Reef Watch
Sascha C. C. Steiner, Institute for Tropical Marine Ecology Inc. - Dominica
Estrella Villamizar, Universidad Central de Venezuela
Sheila M. Walsh, Brown University
Cory Walter, Mote Marine Laboratory
Ernesto Weil, University of Puerto Rico - Mayaguez
Ernest H. Williams, University of Puerto Rico - Mayaguez
Kimberly Woody Roberson, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Yusri Yusuf, Universiti Malaysia Terengganu

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

11-2010

Publication Title

PLoS One

Keywords

Bleaching, Coral reefs, Thermal stresses, Caribbean, Corals, Hurricanes, Ocean temperature, Surface temperature

ISSN

1932-6203

Volume

5

Issue/No.

11 e13969

First Page

1

Last Page

9

Abstract

Background: The rising temperature of the world’s oceans has become a major threat to coral reefs globally as the severity and frequency of mass coral bleaching and mortality events increase. In 2005, high ocean temperatures in the tropical Atlantic and Caribbean resulted in the most severe bleaching event ever recorded in the basin.

Methodology/Principal Findings: Satellite-based tools provided warnings for coral reef managers and scientists, guiding both the timing and location of researchers’ field observations as anomalously warm conditions developed and spread across the greater Caribbean region from June to October 2005. Field surveys of bleaching and mortality exceeded prior efforts in detail and extent, and provided a new standard for documenting the effects of bleaching and for testing nowcast and forecast products. Collaborators from 22 countries undertook the most comprehensive documentation of basin-scale bleaching to date and found that over 80% of corals bleached and over 40% died at many sites. The most severe bleaching coincided with waters nearest a western Atlantic warm pool that was centered off the northern end of the Lesser Antilles.

Conclusions/Significance: Thermal stress during the 2005 event exceeded any observed from the Caribbean in the prior 20 years, and regionally-averaged temperatures were the warmest in over 150 years. Comparison of satellite data against field surveys demonstrated a significant predictive relationship between accumulated heat stress (measured using NOAA Coral Reef Watch’s Degree Heating Weeks) and bleaching intensity. This severe, widespread bleaching and mortality will undoubtedly have long-term consequences for reef ecosystems and suggests a troubled future for tropical marine ecosystems under a warming climate.

Comments

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Public Domain declaration which stipulates that, once placed in the public domain, this work may be freely reproduced, distributed, transmitted, modified, built upon, or otherwise used by anyone for any lawful purpose.

DOI

10.1371/journal.pone.0013969

Peer Reviewed

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