We invite you to join over 3,000 scientists from around the world in endorsing a Scientific Consensus Statement urging governments to take action for the preservation of coral reefs for the benefit of present and future generations.
The Consensus Statement (below) was drafted by a working group of eminent scientists, brought together under the auspices of the Center for Ocean Solutions, to address the topic of climate change impacts on coral reefs.
To build a large base of support in preparation for the pubic launch of the statement (during the opening ceremony of the 12th International Coral Reef Symposium on July 9, in Cairns, Australia), please click HERE to join other scientists from around the world by adding your name to the list of endorsees.
Steve Palumbi, PhD
Center for Ocean Solutions,
Stanford University, California USA
Robert H. Richmond, PhD
President, Society for International Reef Studies
University of Hawaii at Manoa, USA
Terry P. Hughes, PhD
Convenor, 12th International Coral Reef Symposium
James Cook University, Australia
Consensus Statement on Climate Change and Coral Reefs
The international Coral Reef Science Community calls on all governments to ensure the future of coral reefs, through global action to reduce the emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, and via improved local protection of coral reefs. Coral reefs are important ecosystems of ecological, economic and cultural value yet they are in decline worldwide due to human activities. Land-based sources of pollution, sedimentation, overfishing and climate change are the major threats, and all of them are expected to increase in severity.
Changes already observed over the last century:
- Approximately 25-30% of the world’s coral reefs are already severely degraded by local impacts from land and by over-harvesting.
- The surface of the world’s tropical oceans has warmed by 0.8°C, resulting in unprecedented coral bleaching and mortality events.
- The acidity of the ocean’s surface has increased due to increased atmospheric CO2.
- Sea-level has risen on average by 18cm.
By the end of this century:
- CO2 emissions at the current rate will warm sea surface temperatures by at least 2-3°C, raise sea-level by as much as 1.7 meters, reduce ocean pH from 8.1 to less than 7.9, and increase storm frequency and/or intensity. This combined change in temperature and ocean chemistry has not occurred since the last reef crisis 55 million years ago.
Other stresses faced by corals and reefs:
- Coral reef death also occurs because of a set of local problems including excess sedimentation, pollution, habitat destruction, and overfishing.
- These problems reduce coral growth and vitality, making it more difficult for corals to survive climate changes.
Future impacts on coral reefs:
- Most corals will face water temperatures above their current tolerance.
- Most reefs will experience higher acidification, impairing calcification of corals and reef growth.
- Rising sea levels will be accompanied by disruption of human communities, increased sedimentation impacts and increased levels of wave damage.
- Together, this combination of climate-related stressors represents an unprecedented challenge for the future of coral reefs and to the services they provide to people.
Across the globe, these problems cause a loss of reef resources of enormous economic and cultural value. A concerted effort to preserve reefs for the future demands action at global levels, but also will benefit hugely from continued local protection.
- Greta Aeby, Research Scientist, Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology, USA
- Andrew Baird, Principal Research Fellow, ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, James Cook University, Australia
- James Barry, Senior Scientist, Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, California, USA
- Dan Barshis, Postdoctoral Scholar, Stanford University, California, USA
- Yehuda Benayahu, Professor of Zoology, Tel Aviv University, Israel
- Charles Birkeland, Adjunct Associate Professor of Zoology, University of Hawaii, USA
- Dan Brumbaugh, Senior Conservation Scientist, American Museum of Natural History, New York, USA
- Ann Budd, Professor of Invertebrate Paleontology, Iowa University, USA
- Meg Caldwell, Executive Director, Center for Ocean Solutions, Stanford University, California, USA
- Robert Carpenter, Professor, California State University Northridge, USA
- Anne Cohen, Professor of Geology and Geophysics, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Massachusetts, USA
- Steve Coles, Research Zoologist, Bishop Museum, Hawaii, USA
- Isabelle Cote, Professor of Tropical Marine Ecology, Department of Biological Sciences, Simon Frasier University, Canada
- Larry Crowder, Senior Science Director, Center for Ocean Solutions, Stanford University, California, USA
- Guillermo Diaz-Pulido, Lecturer, School of Environment, Griffith University, Australia
- Rob Dunbar, Professor of Environmental Earth System Science, Stanford University, California, USA
- Mark Eakin, Coordinator, NOAA Coral Reef Watch, Maryland, USA
- Makoto Tsuchiya, Professor and President of the Japanese Coral Reef Society, University of the Ryukyus, Japan
- Peter Edmunds, Professor of Biology, California State University, Northridge, California, USA
- Katharina Fabricius, Principal Research Scientist, Australian Institute of Marine Science, Townsville, Australia
- Ruth Gates, Researcher, Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology, USA
- Yimnang Golbuu, Chief Researcher, Palau International Coral Reef Center, Palau
- Edgardo Gomez, Emeritus Professor, Marine Science Institute, University of the Philippines
- Andrea Grottoli, Associate Professor, Ohio State University, USA
- Mike Hadfield, Professor of Biology, University of Hawaii, USA
- Peter Harrison, Director of Marine Studies & Marine Ecology Research Centre, Southern Cross University, Australia
- Drew Harvell, Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Cornell University, New York, USA
- Mark Hixon, Professor of Marine Ecology & Conservation Biology, Oregon State University, USA
- Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, Professor and Director, Global Change Institute, University of Queensland, Australia
- Peter Houk, Chief Biologist, Pacific Marine Resources Institute, Saipan
- Terry Hughes, Professor, ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, James Cook University, Australia
- Cynthia Hunter, Associate Professor, University of Hawaii, USA
- Jeremy Jackson, Emeritus Professor of Oceanography, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, California, USA
- Paul Jokiel, Researcher, Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology, University of Hawaii, USA
- Les Kaufman, Professor of Biology, Boston University, Massachusetts, USA
- Mark Kirkpatrick, Professor of Integrative Biology, University of Texas, USA
- Jack Kittinger, Research Fellow, Center for Ocean Solutions, California, USA
- Joanie Kleypas, Scientist III, National Center for Atmospheric Research, Colorado, USA
- Nancy Knowlton, Sant Chair for Marine Science, Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, Washington DC, USA
- Kristy Kroeker, PhD Candidate, Stanford University, California, USA
- Chris Langdon, Professor of Marine Biology & Fisheries, University of Miami, Florida, USA
- Jo-Ann Leong, Professor & Director, Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology, University of Hawaii, USA
- Michael Lesser, Department of Molecular, Cellular and Biomedical Sciences, University of New Hampshire, USA
- Braddock Linsley, Research Professor, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Columbia University, New York, USA
- Janice Lough, Senior Principal Research Scientist, Australian Institute of Marine Science, Townsville, Australia
- Joseph Loya, Professor of Zoology, Tel Aviv University, Israel
- Fred Mackenzie, Professor Emeritus of Sedimentary and Global Geochemistry, University of Hawaii, USA
- Tim McClanahan, Senior Conservation Zoologist, Wildlife Conservation Society, Kenya
- Malcom McCulloch, Professor, School of Earth & Environment, University of Western Australia, Australia
- Austin Stephen, Monismith, Professor, Director, Environmental Fluid Mechanics Lab, Stanford University, California, USA
- Peter Mumby, Professor, School of Biological Sciences, University of Queensland, Australia
- Magnus Nyström, Associate Professor & Senior Lecturer, Stockholm Resilience Center, Sweden
- Steve Palumbi, Director & Professor of Conservation Genetics, Hopkins Marine Station, Stanford University, California, USA
- John Pandolfi, Professor of Biological Sciences, University of Queensland, Australia
- Adina Paytan, Research Scientist, Institute of Marine Sciences, University of California, Santa Cruz, USA
- Serge Planes, Director, CRIOBE Moorea, University of Perpignon, France
- Robert Richmond, President of ISRS, Professor of Conservation Biology, University of Hawaii, USA
- Stuart Sandin, Assistant Professor, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, California, USA
- Jennifer Smith, Assistant Professor, Center for Marine Biodiversity and Conservation, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, California, USA
- Robert van Woesik, Professor, Florida Institute of Technology, USA
- John Veron, Former Chief Scientist, Australian Institute of Marine Science, Townsville, Australia
- Virginia Weis, Professor and Chair, Oregon State University, USA
- Kevin Weng, Manager, Pelagic Fisheries Research Program, University of Hawaii, USA
- Bette Willis, Professor of Marine Biology, James Cook University, Australia
- Brock Woodson, Research Fellow, Center for Ocean Solutions, Stanford University, California, USA
- Dirk Zeller, Senior Research Fellow, University of British Columbia, Canada