SCIENTIA GEOGRAPHICA SINICA ›› 2020, Vol. 40 ›› Issue (5): 814-822.doi: 10.13249/j.cnki.sgs.2020.05.016

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Thermal Stress Temporary Refugia Under Global Change for Coral Reefs in the South China Sea Islands

Zuo Xiuling1,2,3(), Su Fenzhen2(), Wang Qi2, Wang Chenliang2, Jiang Huiping2, Shi Wei2   

  1. 1. Guangxi Laboratory on the Study of Coral Reefs in the South China Sea, Guangxi University, Nanning 530004, Guangxi, China
    2. State Key Laboratory of Resources and Environmental Information System, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Science, Beijing 100101, China
    3. School of Marine Sciences, Guangxi University, Nanning 530004, Guangxi, China
  • Received:2019-04-10 Revised:2019-10-18 Online:2020-05-10 Published:2020-08-18
  • Contact: Su Fenzhen;
  • Supported by:
    Strategic Priority Research Program of the Chinese Academy of Sciences(XDA13010400);National Natural Science Foundation of China(41801341);Guangxi Natural Science Foundation of China(2018JJB150030)


The SST data for IPCC RCP2.6, RCP4.5 and RCP8.5 are selected from the Canadian Earth System Model of the CCCma (CanESM2) of CMIP5(Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 5), which is more suitable for the area of South China Sea. Based on the coral reef pixels of Nansha archipelagoes and the linear regression method, the summer SST rising trend in each RCP scenario was analyzed for the South China Sea Islands. Moreover, the temporary refugia in the RCP scenarios were investigated based on two thermal stress indexes of Degree Heating Weeks (DHW) and the onset of annual bleaching conditions. The main results are as following: 1) In three RCP scenarios, the apparently warming reef areas are the Nansha Islands; 2) The proportion of coral reefs projected to experience annual bleaching conditions not later than the global median year is 17%, 29% and 42% in RCP2.6, RCP4.5 and RCP8.5 scenarios respectively. These reefs are located in the Nansha Islands; 3) Reefs of Xisha Islands, Zhongsha Islands, Dongsha Islands and the northern Nansha Islands in the higher latitudes are the future temporary refuges. This article supplements the global temporary refugia in a warming world and proves the important role of the South China Sea Islands in the future global coral reef sustainability, which is also of great significance for mitigating greenhouse gas emissions and coping with climate change.

Key words: global change, coral reef, thermal stress, temporary refugia, South China Sea Islands

CLC Number: 

  • P208