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Geospatial modeling of environmental hazards to coral reefs in the Oman Sea

Abstract

Globally, there have been overwhelming concerns about the effects of climate changes on various species’ ecosystems and habitats. In the marine realm, significant loss and degradation of coral reefs have been identified. Along the coastlines of the Oman Sea, coral reefs are highly threatened and degraded. The deterioration of this marine ecosystem has occurred as a direct response to a variety of environmental and natural threats. Consequently, mass bleaching and coral mortality have been reported in several sites causing loss of live coral cover and their values and services. Although anthropogenic impacts on coral reefs across the northern Oman coasts have been examined, explicit spatial modeling of environmental stressors on coral reefs has not been yet conducted. In this study, a combination of Geographical Information Systems techniques and a quantitative Analytical Hierarchical Process have been utilized to investigate spatial patterns of environmental risks posed to coral reef cover. A multiple risk index was calculated, and a map which represents risk classes was produced based on various vulnerability, exposure, and hazard criteria. The key findings of this analysis revealed that specific coral reef sites were severely susceptible to environmental threats, particularly sites at Muscat, Sur, Matrah and Ras Al Sawady. The deep exposure of coral reefs to natural threats was found to be highly triggered by thermal stress, coastal pollution, and proximity to potential sedimentation sources. This research may inform beneficial policy actions to lessen the outcomes of natural threats to coral cover across the Oman Sea coasts, specifically in terms of the development of risk maps and spatial strategies to protect the most vulnerable, fragile, and sensitive coral reef ecosystems.

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Correspondence to Shawky Mansour.

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Mansour, S. Geospatial modeling of environmental hazards to coral reefs in the Oman Sea. Coral Reefs (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00338-020-01900-2

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Keywords

  • GIS
  • Geospatial modeling
  • Environmental hazards
  • Coral reefs
  • Oman Sea