The long-term goal of this project is to examine how oceanographic conditions shape benthic marine ecosystems in the Coral Triangle, and to determine how changes in these conditions will influence those ecosystems in the 21st Century. During this first phase of the project, our immediate goal is to examine how spatial and temporal patterns of coral bleaching within the Coral Triangle will change over the 21st Century, with a better understanding of the physical and biological mechanisms driving those changes.
The Coral Triangle
The Coral Triangle is the most biodiverse of any marine region, and this is particularly true of its reefs. Some of the main features that are thought to support this high biodiversity, however, namely the complex bathymetry and physical oceanography, make predicting the vulnerability of Coral Triangle ecosystems a difficult task. The Indonesian Throughflow (ITF), in particular, is widely recognized as a major pathway for water exchange between the Indian and Pacific Oceans, and a factor in climate phenomena such as El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO), the Indian Ocean Dipole, or the Asian Monsoon.
A Regional Ocean Modeling System developed for the Coral Triangle (CT-ROMS) will be used to examine climate change effects on temperature and circulation patterns in the Coral Triangle. The model has been run with 2004-2006 forcings, and reproduces circulation and temperature patterns of recent oceanographic campaigns in the region. The numerical integrations will consist of several 21st Century runs forced by Community Climate-System Model, version 4 (CCSM4) projections using two "Representative Concentration Pathway" (RCP) scenarios developed for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Assessment Report 5.
The team includes researchers from NCAR, Rutgers University, University of California- Berkeley, and The Nature Conservancy. The work has been gratefully supported by NSF and our own institutions, and by computing support from NCAR's Computing and Information Systems Laboratory, the Texas Advanced Computing Consortium, and Rutgers.