Seasonal Prediction of Extreme Ocean Temperatures/Coral Bleaching


The Pacific-Australia Climate Change Science and Adaptation Program (PACCSAP) project Seasonal prediction of extreme ocean temperatures/coral bleaching provides seasonal forecasts of ocean temperature and coral bleaching risk. These forecasts are generated using the Australian Bureau of Meteorology's Predictive Ocean Atmosphere Model for Australia (POAMA). This is a global ocean-atmosphere coupled ensemble seasonal forecast system developed jointly by the Australian Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) and the CSIRO Division of Marine and Atmospheric Research (CMAR).

Gridded forecasts for ocean temperature and thermal stress, and associated skill maps, are presented using a navigable map overlain with geospatial information. Summary reports on coral bleaching risk for Partner Countries in PACCSAP will be available in the future.

Project background

Coral bleaching is largely a result of anomalously warm water temperatures. Degraded coral reefs present many potential social and economic problems for Partner Countries, including long-term loss of tourism, potential loss or degradation of fisheries and reduction in coastal protection, as well as the environmental degradation itself. Monitoring and prediction of thermal stress events (water temperatures warmer than normal) enables the support of a range of adaptive and management activities that could improve reef resilience to extreme conditions.

Project objectives

The PACCSAP project Seasonal prediction of extreme ocean temperatures/coral bleaching aims to develop a better understanding of and prediction capability for sea surface temperatures (SST).

This project will develop predictions for extreme ocean temperatures and coral bleaching risk based on a dynamical seasonal ocean-atmosphere model (POAMA). Dynamical models (based on physics) are considered to have an advantage over statistical models in a changing climate. Statistical models are based on historical data, and therefore cannot predict unprecedented events.

Planned forecast products include:

  • Sea Surface Temperature (SST)
  • Sea Surface Temperature Anomalies (SSTA)
  • Coral HotSpots
  • Degree Heating Months (DHM)
  • Skill of the above products

This information is critical to Partner Countries in planning coastal development and safeguarding agricultural, marine and water resources. Under climate change, ocean temperatures and the frequency of mass coral bleaching events are predicted to increase, highlighting the need for improved management of coral reefs of the Pacific Island nations and Timor Leste. The project aims to develop enhanced seasonal coral bleaching risk prediction products for the Western Pacific, an improved understanding of climate drivers of extreme ocean temperatures, and to conduct relevant in-country training.

Go to SST forecasts


The Seasonal Extremes Help Page explains how to use the product.

Further information and outcomes will be published in scientific articles and online. For model information see the POAMA website.

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