Nutrient-supplying ocean currents modulate coral bleaching susceptibility

Thomas Mario De Carlo, Laura Gajdzik, Joanne Ellis, Darren James Coker, May B. Roberts, Nicholas M. Hammerman, John M. Pandolfi, Alison Monroe, Michael L. Berumen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


With predictions that mass coral bleaching will occur annually within this century, conservation efforts must focus their limited resources based on an accurate understanding of the drivers of bleaching. Here, we provide spatial and temporal evidence that excess nutrients exacerbate the detrimental effects of heat stress to spark mass coral bleaching in the Red Sea. Exploiting this region’s unique oceanographic regime, where nutrients and heat stress vary independently, we demonstrate that the world’s third largest coral reef system historically suffered from severe mass bleaching only when exposed to both unusually high temperature and nutrients. Incorporating nutrient-supplying ocean currents and their variability into coral bleaching forecasts will be critical for effectively guiding efforts to safeguard the reefs most likely to persist in the Anthropocene.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)eabc5493
JournalScience advances
Issue number34
StatePublished - Aug 21 2020

Bibliographical note

KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2020-10-01
Acknowledgements: We thank L. Tanabe, S. Brown, A. Dunne, and T. Terraneo for assistance with field and laboratory aspects of this study; Dream Divers for logistical support; and A. Green for insightful discussions.


Dive into the research topics of 'Nutrient-supplying ocean currents modulate coral bleaching susceptibility'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this