C. T. Perry and K. M. Morgan

Scientific Reports

Published date January 13, 2017

Bleaching drives collapse in reef carbonate budgets and reef growth potential on southern Maldives reefs

  • States that sea-surface temperature (SST) warming events represent major threats to coral reefs
  • Quantifies the magnitude of changes that followed the ENSO-induced SST warming that affected the Indian Ocean region in mid-2016
  • Finds that resultant coral bleaching caused an average 75% reduction in coral cover (present mean 6.2%)
  • Reports shifts in shallow fore-reef carbonate budgets from strongly net positive (mean 5.92 G, where G = kg CaCO3 m−2 yr−1) to strongly net negative (mean −2.96 G) 
  • Finds that these changes have driven major reductions in reef growth potential, which have declined from an average 4.2 to −0.4 mm yr−1
  • Concludes that these shallow fore-reef habitats are now in a phase of net erosion
  • Predicts a prolonged period of suppressed budget and reef growth states