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Proceedings of the
 Coral Reefs, Climate, & Coral Bleaching Workshop



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The world’s coral reefs have been degrading at an alarming rate due to pressure from a variety of threats, including climate variability and change. Climate-related changes in sea surface temperature, water chemistry, and sea level are a particularly potent threat, as their effects on coral reefs can be complex, far-reaching and devastating. For instance, warming sea surface temperatures associated with climate change have already caused extensive coral “bleaching” (the loss of microscopic symbiotic algae that provide corals with most of their color and energy) and coral death.  Experts have concluded that climate change will also render coral reefs more vulnerable to other human-related stresses such as water pollution, disease, habitat destruction and overfishing.

At its meeting in October 2002, the U.S. Coral Reef Task Force (USCRTF) passed two resolutions highlighting the impacts of climate change and coral bleaching on coral reefs.  The first resolution on “Coral Reefs and Climate Change” called for an interagency, public/private partnership to advance understanding and management of this issue.  A second resolution identified climate change and coral bleaching as one of six priority threats to U.S. reefs and encouraged development of local action strategies by state/territory and federal partners to outline local management strategies to address the problem.  In response to these resolutions, the Department of Commerce (NOAA), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and Department of the Interior (DOI) organized a stakeholder workshop to explore collaborative approaches for better understaning and addressing threats to coral reefs associated with climate variability and change, with special emphasis on coral bleaching.


The workshop aims were to develop an interdisciplinary partnership among state, territorial, and federal agencies, non-governmental organizations, academic researchers, and other stakeholders to advance the science and tools for management of coral reefs in the context of climate change and increasing insults from coral bleaching events. Workshop themes included:

1)      Information-sharing: overview of all stakeholder activities in the areas of coral reef science, monitoring, modeling and management for climate change and bleaching, with discussion of opportunities for collaboration and identification of knowledge gaps

2)      Management toolkit: compilation of all available strategies, techniques, and programs for adaptive management of coral reefs in a changing climate, for inclusion in an information toolkit that can be shared with field managers in all regions

3)      Program planning: develop a framework for an integrated research program to improve our understanding of local and system-wide responses to climate change and establish  partnerships that enhance our ability to develop management responses



The Workshop Organizing Committee invited participation and input from over 100 scientists and managers from federal, state and territorial government, NGOs, academic researchers, and international partners currently active in understanding and managing coral reefs in a changing climate.  Areas of expertise included:

1)                 bleaching management practices

2)                 monitoring efforts (biological and physical)

3)                 state of scientific understanding about coral bleaching

4)                 other important stressors related to the bleaching story

5)                 current and future programs to address bleaching issues

6)                 scientific gap analysis

7)                 future management tools and practices

8)                 recovery from bleaching events

9)       adaptation and resilience to bleaching events


Contact Information

Workshop Organizing Committee:

Paula Allen Florida Dept. of Environmental Protection
(Caribbean Regional Rep)
Katherine Andews Florida Dept. of Environmental Protection
(Caribbean Regional Rep)
Rusty Brainard (NOAA) rusty.brainard@noaa.gov
Lara Hansen (WWF) lara.hansen@wwfus.org
Karen Koltes (DOI) karen koltes@ios.doi.gov
Heidi Schuttenberg -- NOAA Heidi.Schuttenberg@noaa.gov
Eileen Shea East-West Center (Pacific Regional Rep)
William Skirving (NOAA) william.skirving@noaa.gov
Alan Strong (NOAA) alan.e.strong@noaa.gov
Jordan West (EPA) west.jordan@epamail.gov
Workshop Planning Advisor
Andrew Hooten (World Bank) ahooten@worldbank.org


Coral Reefs, Climate, & Coral Bleaching Workshop  June 18 - 20 Oahu, Hawaii
Last modified: 11/17/03