Coral Reefs

, 28:841 | Cite as

Sea-surface temperature and thermal stress in the Coral Triangle over the past two decades

  • E. L. PeñaflorEmail author
  • W. J. Skirving
  • A. E. Strong
  • S. F. Heron
  • L. T. David


Increasing ocean temperature has become one of the major concerns in recent times with reports of various related ecological impacts becoming commonplace. One of the more notable is the increased frequency of mass coral bleaching worldwide. This study focuses on the Coral Triangle region and utilizes the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration-Coral Reef Watch (NOAA-CRW) satellite-derived sea surface temperature (SST) and Degree Heating Weeks (DHW) products to investigate changes in the thermal regime of the Coral Triangle waters between 1985 and 2006. Results show an upward trend in SST during this period with an average rate of 0.2°C/decade. However, warming within this region is not uniform, and the waters of the northern and eastern parts of the Coral Triangle are warming fastest. Areas in the eastern part have experienced more thermal stress events, and these stress events appear to be more likely during a La Niña.


Coral Triangle SST Thermal stress ENSO 



This study was supported by the World Bank/GEF Coral Reef Targeted Research program—Remote Sensing Working Group with chair Dr. Peter Mumby. The authors are also grateful to Dr. Bruce Maxwell of Colby College, Waterville for his assistance in the clustering analysis, and Dr. C. Mark Eakin of NOAA-NESDIS CRW for his invaluable comments on the manuscript. The manuscript contents are solely the opinions of the authors and do not constitute a statement of policy, decision, or position on behalf of NOAA or the U.S. Government.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • E. L. Peñaflor
    • 1
    Email author
  • W. J. Skirving
    • 2
  • A. E. Strong
    • 2
  • S. F. Heron
    • 2
  • L. T. David
    • 1
  1. 1.Marine Science InstituteUniversity of the Philippines, DilimanQuezon CityPhilippines
  2. 2.NOAA NESDIS Coral Reef WatchSilver SpringUSA

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