Do sun-care products increase the vulnerability of coral reefs to global warming by lowering thermal bleaching threshold levels (KB-24-002-039)

  • Slijkerman, Diana (Project Leader)

Project: EZproject

Project Details


Coral bleaching due to global warming is currently the largest threat to tropical coral reefs. Mass bleaching has devastating effects on coral reefs and their ecosystem services, which include coastal protection, fisheries and tourism. Recent studies show a specific sensitivity of corals for compounds present in sun care products. Increased tourism and the corresponding use of sun care products puts an additional stress to these reefs by impairing water quality. Pollution with sun care products might act synergistically with global warming, affecting coral bleaching threshold levels. 

In this study we aim to study whether the vulnerability of coral reefs to effects of climate change is intensified by exposure to sunscreen polluted water and thus affecting thermal coral bleaching thresholds. Main activities include experimental exposure studies, which include a factorial design to study the effects of temperature, water quality (UV filters) and their interaction.

The experimental work will be performed in climate controlled facilities of Carus, the facility for experimental animal research in Wageningen.Results might demonstrate an interaction between climate change and water quality, and will contribute largely to the recent scientific debate on sunscreen effects in the marine realm, which is still a controversy. Results can be used in the debate on whether or not continue a ban on specific compounds and products.

Effective start/end date1/01/1831/12/18