Tropical coral reef habitat in a geoengineered, high-CO2 world

Elena M Couce, Pete J Irvine, Lauren Gregoire, Andy J Ridgwell, E.J. Hendy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)
296 Downloads (Pure)


Continued anthropogenic CO2 emissions are expected to impact tropical coral reefs by further raising sea surface temperatures (SST) and intensifying ocean acidification (OA). Although geoengineering by means of Solar Radiation Management (SRM) may mitigate temperature increases, OA will persist, raising important questions regarding the impact of different stressor combinations. We apply statistical Bioclimatic Envelope Models to project changes in shallow-water tropical coral reef habitat as a single niche (without resolving biodiversity or community composition) under various Representative Concentration Pathway and SRM scenarios, until 2070. We predict substantial reductions in habitat suitability centered on the Indo-Pacific Warm Pool under net anthropogenic radiative forcing of ≥3.0 W/m2. The near-term dominant risk to coral reefs is increasing SSTs; below 3 W/m2 reasonably favorable conditions are maintained, even when achieved by SRM with persisting OA. ‘Optimal’ mitigation occurs at 1.5 W/m2 because tropical SSTs over-cool in a fully-geoengineered (i.e. pre-industrial global mean temperature) world.
Key Points:
• Large reductions in reef habitat suitability under net radiative forcing >3 W/m2
• Rising SSTs are greater threat for tropical coral reefs than ocean acidification
• Solar Radiation Management may help maintain coral reef habitat over near-term

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1799-1805
Number of pages6
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number9
Early online date12 Mar 2013
Publication statusPublished - 10 May 2013


  • geoengineering
  • coral reef ecosystems
  • Species Distribution Modeling
  • Bioclimatic Envelope Modeling
  • Solar Radiation Management

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