Rising sea surface temperatures threaten tropical coral reefs, as these ecosystems are sensitive to a changing environment.
Rising sea surface temperatures threaten tropical coral reefs, as these ecosystems are sensitive to a changing environment. The Priority Programme "Tropical Climate Variability & Coral Reefs" (SPP 2299), funded by the German Research Foundation (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft – DFG) with about 12 Million Euro, aims to improve our understanding of tropical marine climate variability and its impacts on coral reef ecosystems in a warming world. This will be accomplished by quantifying climate and environmental changes both during the current warming and during past warm periods on time scales relevant to society.
Corals and coral reefs store information about how the oceanatmosphere system functioned in the past, but also about what environmental stresses they were exposed to. For example, instrumental records of sea surface observations and reef monitoring can be extended to provide a near monthly record of past conditions.
The Priority Programme is coordinated by Dr. Thomas Felis (University of Bremen, MARUM). More than 40 scientists from ten universities, three Helmholtz Centres, one Max-Planck Institute and one Leibniz Centre are meeting for the kick-off meeting for the first funding phase at the University of Bremen from October 3 until 5. The programme will run for six years and has a very strong interdisciplinary focus to combine expertise in climate, environmental and ecosystem research. "Ultrahigh resolution coral geochemistry provides a tool to understand the temporal response of corals and coral reefs to ongoing climate and environmental changes, and to reconstruct past tropical climate and environmental fluctuations," says Thomas Felis. "We can use these data in conjunction with advanced statistical methods, Earth system modeling, and observed ecosystem responses for improved predictions of future changes in tropical climate and coral reef ecosystems."
Coral reef near Aqaba, Jordan (Photo Credit: MARUM/T. Felis)