Too hot to handle? An urgent need to understand climate change impacts on the biogeochemistry of tropical coastal waters

Cátia Carreira*, Patrick W.S. Joyce, Xosé Anxelu G. Morán, Susana Carvalho, Laura Falkenberg, Christian Lønborg

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Tropical regions contain ecologically and socio-economically important habitats, and are home to about 3.8 billion people, many of which directly depend on tropical coastal waters for their well-being. At the basis of these ecosystems are biogeochemical processes. Climate change is expected to have a greater impact in the tropics compared to temperate regions because of the relatively stable environmental conditions found there. However, it was surprising to find only 660 research articles published focusing on the impact of climate change on the biogeochemistry of coastal tropical waters compared to 4823 for temperate waters. In this perspective, we highlight important topics in need of further research. Specifically, we suggest that in tropical regions compared to temperate counterparts climate change stressors will be experienced differently, that organisms have a lower acclimation capacity, and that long-term baseline biogeochemical datasets useful for quantifying future changes are lacking. The low number of research papers on the impacts of climate change in coastal tropical regions is likely due to a mix of reasons including limited resources for research and limited number of long time series in many developing tropical countries. Finally, we propose some action points that we hope will stimulate more studies in tropical coastal waters.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere17074
JournalGlobal change biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2024


  • acclimation
  • biogeochemistry
  • climate change
  • coastal waters
  • datasets
  • impact
  • knowledge gap
  • stressors
  • tropic

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Ecology
  • General Environmental Science


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