Climate Change and Coral Reefs

Climate Change and Coral Reefs:
Consequences of inaction
The world's coral reefs were probably the first ecosystem to show major damage from climate change. Reefs will suffer catastrophic collapse from climate change within the next few decades unless there are major and immediate reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. Already 19% of the world's coral reefs have effectively been lost; and 35% more are seriously threatened with destruction, mostly due to direct human threats. Climate change will cause even more dramatic losses; we are just determining that climate change will cause serious damage to deep, cold water coral reefs.

The 6 page brochure was produced for the International Coral Reef Initiative by the Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network by extracting material and data from the scientific papers and reports listed below, plus the expert advice and opinions from many contributors. Authors have made some of these reports available for download for valid non-commercial use.

Contacts: Francis Staub ( or Clive Wilkinson (

Summary Chapters on Climate Change and Coral Reefs from Status of Coral Reefs of the World reports:

Climate Change, ocean acidification and Coral Reef papers and reports

This detailed expert report contains considerable discussion of the current and potential future impacts of global climate change on the Great Barrier Reef and makes recommendations for management action.

Movies, videos

  • Oceans +2C - Film on Climate Change and the Ocean…stunning images and a powerful message. Set to a backdrop of stunning photography from the International League of Conservation Photographers, leading marine scientists from Stanford and MBARI discuss the role of the ocean in climate change and the potential impacts of a targeted 2C rise in global temperature. This is an iLCP media production in partnership with Center for Ocean Solutions.


  • Ocean and Climate are locked in a continuous dance, the condition of one profoundly affecting the other. This powerful synergy is complicated and constantly adjusting to human interventions. Through this site, you can explore this complexity in its many forms -- the key issues and possible responses -- and express your views through our Ocean-Climate Forum. We invite you to join an interactive global conversation about ocean and climate and to engage in individual and collective efforts to address the challenging situations examined here:
  • Climate Change and Oceans - Global climate and the world ocean are inexorably linked. This is not merely because the ocean's ecosystems, like all others on earth, are affected by climate changes, but also because it is the oceans that drive planetary climate and weather. Changing climate changes the marine environment, but so too does a changing marine environment contribute to global climate change. Visit the Website.