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Catastrophic bleaching risks to Mesoamerican coral reefs in recent climate change projections
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  • Meridel Murphy Phillips,
  • Manishka De Mel,
  • Anastasia Romanou,
  • David Rind,
  • Alex C Ruane,
  • Cynthia Rosenzweig
Meridel Murphy Phillips
SciSpace, LLC

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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Manishka De Mel
Columbia University
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Anastasia Romanou
NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies
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David Rind
Goddard Institute for Space Studies
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Alex C Ruane
Climate Impacts Group, NASA GISS, USA
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Cynthia Rosenzweig
NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies
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The damaging effects of climate change and increased ocean temperatures are already visible in marine ecosystems worldwide. Degree heating weeks (DHW) provide a valuable metric for gauging excess sea surface temperature warming and coral bleaching risk. This study produces future DHW projections for the Mesoamerican reef (MAR) using a multi-model climate change ensemble. We show that current marine heat wave conditions linked to coral bleaching will be far exceeded in an average year by mid-century, creating an environment where MAR corals have no opportunity for normal year recovery between extreme years. The dramatic increase in DHW in the MAR indicates strong adaptation interventions need to be developed and implemented as soon as possible to support local communities in adjusting to the effects of a warming climate.