Caribbean Corals and Climate Change

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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.