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Subsurface Temperature Estimates From a Regional Ocean Modelling System (ROMS) Reanalysis Provide Accurate Coral Heat Stress Indices Across the Main Hawaiian Islands

March 19, 2024

The MHI ROMS simulation proves to be a useful tool for coral reef management in the absence of, or to supplement, subsurface and satellite measurements across Hawaiʻi and likely for other Pacific Island regions.

As ocean temperatures continue to rise, coral bleaching events around the globe are becoming stronger and more frequent. High-resolution temperature data is therefore critical for monitoring reef conditions to identify indicators of heat stress. Satellite and in situ measurements have historically been relied upon to study the thermal tolerances of coral reefs, but these data are quite limited in their spatial and temporal coverage. Ocean circulation models could provide an alternative or complement to these limited data, but a thorough evaluation against in situ measurements has yet to be conducted in any Pacific Islands region. Here we compared subsurface temperature measurements around the nearshore Main Hawaiian Islands (MHI) from 2010 to 2017 with temperature predictions from an operational Regional Ocean Modeling System (ROMS) to evaluate the potential utility of this model as a tool for coral reef management. We found that overall, the ROMS reanalysis presents accurate subsurface temperature predictions across the nearshore MHI region and captures a significant amount of observed temperature variability.  

Perelman JN, Tanaka KR, Smith JN. et al. 2024. Subsurface temperature estimates from a Regional Ocean Modelling System (ROMS) reanalysis provide accurate coral heat stress indices across the Main Hawaiian Islands Sci Rep 14, 6620.

Last updated by Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center on 04/11/2024

Marine Heatwave