Ocean acidification limits temperature-induced poleward expansion of coral habitats around Japan

Using results from four coupled global carbon cycle-climate models combined with in situ observations, we estimate the combined effects of future global warming and ocean acidification on potential habitats for tropical/subtropical and temperate coral communities in the seas around Japan. The suitability of the coral habitats are identified primarily on the basis of the currently observed ranges for temperature and saturation states Ω with regard to aragonite (Ωarag). We find that under the “business as usual” SRES A2 scenario, coral habitats will expand northward by several hundred kilometers by the end of this century. At the same time, coral habitats are projected to become sandwiched between the tropical regions, where the frequency of coral bleaching will increase, and the temperate-to-subpolar latitudes, where Ωarag will become too low to support sufficiently high calcification rates. As a result, the area of coral habitats around Japan that is suitable to tropical-subtropical communities will be reduced by half by the 2020s to 2030s, and is projected to disappear by the 2030s to 2040s. The suitable habitats for the temperate coral communities are also becoming smaller, although at a less pronounced rate due to their higher tolerance for low Ωarag.

Yara Y., Vogt M., Fujii M., Yamano H., Hauri C., Steinacher M., Gruber N. & Yamanaka Y., 2012. Ocean acidification limits temperature-induced poleward expansion of coral habitats around Japan. Biogeosciences Discussions 9: 7165-7196. doi:10.5194/bgd-9-7165-2012. Article.


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