A modeling tool to evaluate regional coral reef responses to changes in climate and ocean chemistry

R.W. Buddemeier, P.L. Jokiel, K.M. Zimmerman, D.R. Lane, J. M. Carey, G.C. Bohling, J.A. Martinich

Limnol. Oceanogr. Methods 6:395-411 (2008) | DOI: 10.4319/lom.2008.6.395

ABSTRACT: We developed a spreadsheet-based model for the use of managers, conservationists, and biologists for projecting the effects of climate change on coral reefs at local-to-regional scales. The COMBO (Coral Mortality and Bleaching Output) model calculates the impacts to coral reefs from changes in average SST and CO2 concentrations, and from high temperature mortality (bleaching) events. The model uses a probabilistic assessment of the frequency of high temperature events under a future climate to address scientific uncertainties about potential adverse effects. COMBO offers data libraries and default factors for three selected regions (Hawai'i, Great Barrier Reef, and Caribbean), but it is structured with user-selectable parameter values and data input options, making possible modifications to reflect local conditions or to incorporate local expertise. Preliminary results from sensitivity analyses and simulation examples for Hawai’i demonstrate the relative importance of high temperature events, increased average temperature, and increased CO2 concentration on the future status of coral reefs; illustrate significant interactions among variables; and allow comparisons of past environmental history with future predictions.