Reefs at Risk Quarterly Update #5

Reefs at Risk Revisited is an update of WRI’s 1998 global analysis of threats to coral reefs using new high-resolution data and improved modeling methods. This is the first Reefs at Risk study that will evaluate climate-related threats. WRI is leading the project in collaboration with over 25 partner organizations.


Here is a brief summary of our main accomplishments from the past few months (December 2009 – March 2010):

After completing the second round of modifications to the preliminary global modeling results for local threats (land pollution, marine pollution, coastal development, and overexploitation) and past thermal stress, we have sent these results to experts in each of the six major coral reef regions of the world (Atlantic/Caribbean, Southeast Asia, Pacific, Middle East, Indian Ocean, and Australia) for review.

  • UNEP-WCMC, the WorldFish Center, and WRI collaborated to complete an updated global coral reef layer that assembles the best-available coral location data from around the world into a 500-meter resolution ArcGIS grid. The Institute for Marine Remote Sensing, University of South Florida (IMaRS/USF), Institut de Recherche pour le Développement (IRD/UR) and NASA were major contributors of data to this global map. We have consulted with experts, identified, and integrated the climate-related threat layers that will be used in the report to show existing and projected reef condition. The data include:
    • Past thermal stress, represented by frequency of degree heating weeks > 8 (which correlates to severe coral bleaching) from 1998 to 2007;
    • Projections of future thermal stress, represented by the frequency of NOAA Bleaching Alert Level 2 in decades 2030 and 2050; and
    • Ocean acidification represented by aragonite saturation at present and projected to 2030 and 2050.
  • We have started editing the “Reef Stories,” which are case studies contributed by reef managers around the world, for inclusion in the hard copy and online versions of the report. “Reef Stories” will be used in the publication to showcase examples of naturally healthy or well-managed reefs, or to highlight particular threats to reefs.
  • We have refined a methodology and have completed data collection for the social vulnerability analysis of coastal communities to coral reef degradation. This analysis incorporates exposure to threat of reef degradation (pulling from our main Reefs at Risk analysis), along with dependence on coral reefs and adaptive capacity. Allison Perry of WorldFish Center is leading this analysis (email:
  • We are currently drafting the Reefs at Risk Revisited publication text and will have a first draft completed by mid-April.
  • We have continued working with partners on a communication, distribution and influence strategy for the Reefs at Risk Revisited results, including refining the main messages for the report and identifying audiences and opportunities for targeted outreach.

Next steps

We are currently working on the following objectives for next quarter (April – June 2010):

  • We will finalize the modeling results for local threats and climate-related threats based on feedback received from the review by regional experts.
  • We will complete a first draft of the Reefs at Risk Revisited report and circulate sections among experts for review.
  • We will finalize the social vulnerability analysis and circulate the findings among experts for review.
  • We will continue working with partner organizations to refine our communication strategy for product launch in Fall 2010 in Washington, DC and regional launches coordinated by partner organizations in the major coral reef regions.

Please let Katie ( / 202-729-7653) or Lauretta ( / 202-729-7774) know if you have any comments or questions about the project.