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Research on the reefs

Coral reefs are among the most diverse, productive ecosystems on Earth, but they are also among the most threatened. Fragile reefs are particularly sensitive to environmental changes, such as warming ocean temperatures and increased carbon dioxide. In addition to being sensitive to the changes, they are also recorders of environmental changes. “Essentially, the corals are taking the chemistry of the water and putting it directly into their skeletons,” explains Konrad Hughen, of the Marine Chemistry and Geochemistry Department. “The coral skeleton preserves a record of the environmental changes —like temperature and salinity— at the time the coral was growing.” Learn more about Hughen’s research on the reefs in the latest Oceanus audio slideshow.

(Photo by Konrad Hughen, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)


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