Coral reefs in the Anthropocene

The climate gauntlet faced by coral reefs
TitleCoral reefs in the Anthropocene
Publication Type

Confronting the global coral reef crisis will require immediate action to address the emission of greenhouse gasses, as well as a clearer understanding of multiple drivers and ecosystem responses in the context of new, more realistic, scenarios of global climate change. We need to improve our grasp of the trajectories of interacting drivers and the responses of coral reefs to probable scenarios of shallow water temperatures and ocean pH. We should also incorporate the social sciences into our understanding of the dynamics of linked social–ecological systems. Anthropogenic drivers are becoming stronger and more diverse, as well as shifting in scale from local to global. Through globalization, coral reefs are becoming more accessible, which creates a variety of incentives for their exploitation but also has the potential to offers new solutions on the basis of multiscale governance, including international actions and policies. The challenge for the future is to steer away from the tipping points (Fig. 4) that are already manifesting at local scales. Future coral reef science should be re-oriented to test the effectiveness of policy and management solutions, to measure the success and failure of governance approaches and to modify them accordingly, and to guide the development of new policies.

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