Recent analyses from altimetry and tide gauges has indicated that the basin-wide sealevel trend in the Caribbean Sea for the period 1993-2010 was 1.7 ± 1.3 mm/year, with substantial spatial variability. Local sea-level trends are most important for shallow ecosystems because they have to keep up with the large relative sea-level change and associated coastal wave statistics.
For many Caribbean islands, the shallow bays and lagoons consist of calcic sediments that are maintained primarily by calcifying algae. To determine the effects of global change on the coastal ecosystems in the Caribbean, a comprehensive multidisciplinary project is formulated involving analysis of regional ocean observations and global high-resolution ocean modelling (sub-project A), high-resolution biogeomorphological modelling (subproject B) and field work on sediment dynamics, wave climate, temperature and pH dynamics (subproject C). In addition, experiments will be performed at the Caribbean Netherlands Science Institute (CNSI) on how key species respond to multiple interacting stresses in a multispecies situation and at a diversity of temporal scales (subproject C).
With this approach, we will eventually be able to link global climate, regional ocean changes, local changes in the statistics in temperature, pH and wave impact in coastal bays and lagoons which will finally be translated into biogeomorphic response, including ecosystem health and sediment production rates.