|Rapid recent warming of coral reefs in the Florida Keys|In: Scientific Reports (Nature Publishing Group). Nature Publishing Group: London. ISSN 2045-2322; e-ISSN 2045-2322, meer
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Coral reef decline in the Florida Keys has been well-publicized, controversial, and polarizing owing to debate over the causative agent being climate change versus overfishing. The recurrence of mass bleaching in 2014, the sixth event since 1987, prompted a reanalysis of temperature data. The summer and winter of 2014 were the warmest on record. The oldest known in-situ temperature record of any coral reef is from Hens and Chickens Reef (H&C) in the Florida Keys, which showed significant warming from 1975–2014. The average number of days >=31.5 and 32°C per year increased 2670% and 2560%, respectively, from the mid-1990s to present relative to the previous 20 years. In every year after 1992 and 1994, maximum daily average temperatures exceeded 30.5 and 31°C, respectively. From 1975–1994, temperatures were <31 °C in 61% of years, and in 44% of the years prior to 1992 temperatures were <30.5 °C. The measured rate of warming predicts the start of annual bleaching between 2020 and 2034, sooner than expected from climate models and satellite-based sea temperatures. These data show that thermal stress is increasing and occurring on a near-annual basis on Florida Keys reefs due to ocean warming from climate change.