Reefs at Risk Update #6

The Reefs at Risk Revisited project continues to move forward and we are scheduled to launch the report in early 2011. Over the past few months, the team has completed the modeling of threats to coral reefs and has focused on writing and revising the report text. For those who are new to the list, we are sending out these updates to share our progress on the Reefs at Risk Revisited project with our partners and interested parties. This sixth progress report will take you through the past few months of the project and our upcoming plans for next quarter.

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 and the social vulnerability of coastal communities to reef degradation. 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 (April – August 2010):

  • We completed the global modeling results for local threats to coral reefs (watershed-based pollution, marine-based pollution and damage, coastal development, and overfishing/destructive fishing). The final results incorporated feedback received from reviews by experts in each of the six major coral reef regions of the world (Atlantic, Southeast Asia, Pacific, Middle East, Indian Ocean, and Australia).
  • We integrated data layers estimating climate-related threats to coral reefs with data layers estimating threats from local human activities to show existing and projected reef condition from all threats. The climate-related data layers 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 completed the analysis of the social vulnerability of coastal communities to coral reef degradation. This analysis incorporates exposure to the threat of reef degradation (pulling from our main Reefs at Risk analysis), along with dependence on coral reefs and capacity to adapt to degradation. Allison Perry has led this analysis (email: [email protected]).
  • We selected 12 “Reef Stories” from all major coral reef regions for inclusion in the hard copy report. These case studies, contributed by reef managers around the world, showcase examples of naturally healthy or well-managed reefs, and also highlight particular threats to reefs. We also selected several additional stories to be published online.
  • We completed a first draft of the Reefs at Risk Revisited publication text—as well as all accompanying maps and graphics—and submitted it for internal review at WRI. We are currently editing the report based on feedback from this review.
  • We continued working with partners on a communication, distribution and influence strategy for the Reefs at Risk Revisited results, including identifying audiences and opportunities for targeted outreach.
  • We recently teamed with Céline Cousteau and her company, CauseCentric Productions, to develop a series of short documentary films about reefs at risk. A fundraiser was held in New York City on August 18, 2010 to support Ocean Inspiration, an event celebrating Jacques Cousteau’s 100th birthday. Ocean Inspiration will be held in New York City on October 9 -10, 2010. Proceeds from the event will benefit the Reefs at Risk Revisited project. Please visit for more information.

Next steps

We are currently working on the following objectives for the next few months (September – December 2010):

  • We will finish incorporating comments from the internal review process and circulate the draft Reefs at Risk Revisited report among external experts for review.
  • Based on feedback from external reviewers, we will complete the Reefs at Risk Revisited report and submit it for publication.
  • We will compile the modeling results, maps, and associated data used in the analysis of threats to coral reefs onto a data CD that will be released with the Reefs at Risk Revisited publication.
  • We will work on the websites and web-based materials that will support the Reefs at Risk Revisited project.
  • We will continue working with partner organizations to refine our communication strategy for product launch in early 2011 in Washington, DC and London, with subsequent regional launches coordinated by partner organizations in the major coral reef regions.

Please let Katie Reytar ([email protected] / 202-729-7653) or Lauretta Burke ([email protected] / 202-729-7774) know if you have any comments or questions about the project. We thank you for your continued support of Reefs at Risk Revisited.

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