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Caribbean Corals and Climate Change


July 1, 2006

Climate scientists are finding interesting clues to ancient climates in the corals of Honduras.  During a trip earlier this month, they drilled cores from Montastrea (star corals) and Diploria (brain corals), several as long as 1.6 meters (more than five feet) and possibly 200-250 years old.  Back in the lab in Woods Hole,  the researchers will use skeleton geochemistry to reconstruct environmental changes such as sea surface temperature, river runoff, and pollution as well as  growth and bleaching rates. The corals are part of  the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef system.  Other WHOI scientists look at annual growth rates in corals for clues to changes over time in hurricane patterns and frequencies and other major climate systems.