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Documenting carbonate chemistry changes in a coral reef environment
NCAR Opportunity Fund
Collaborators: Chris Langdon, Rosenstiel Sch Marine & Atmos. Science, U Miami James Hendee and Rik Wanninkhof, NOAA/AOML, Miami

This pilot project capitalizes on NOAA's Coral Reef Early Warning System (CREWS) buoys, which include a suite of oceanographic and meteorologic sensors, by adding a separate instrument that automatically samples seawater carbonate chemistry at regular intervals. Carbonate chemistry on coral reefs is one of several factors that control coral growth, and it is one factor that is changing significantly in response to increases in atmospheric CO2 concentrations. However, there is very little data on the diurnal and seasonal cycles of carbonate chemistry on coral reefs. The ultimate goal of this project is to obtain such data coincident with other environmental data that force these changes. Our team has tested several different arrangements of these instruments over the past year, at the Caribbean Marine Research Center on Lee Stocking Island, Bahamas. Several time-series of seawater samples have been collected and are currently being analyzed and compared with other instrumental data.
A related instrument at the CREWS station, a pCO2 sampling device, remained on the platform during the passage of Hurricane Francis in September, 2004 (the water sampler had been stored on land during the hurricane). Preliminary analysis of the data during the hurricane passage show a sharp and unexpected change in the seawater pCO2; but the jury is still out as to whether this signal is real, or an instrument malfunction.

The ocean thermostat and its potential role in coral reef distribution
Collaborator: Janice Lough, Australian Institute of Marine Science

Dr. Lough and Joanie Kleypas are analyzing sea surface temperature records from some of the warmest parts of the ocean, to understand whether any of the various "ocean thermostat" mechanisms are acting to cap maximum temperatures.

Coral reef threats - opinions of coral reef scientists on what the major threats are to coral reefs
Collaborator: Mark Eakin, NOAA

Dr. Eakin and Joanie Kleypas surveyed over 250 coral reef scientists about the threats to coral reefs in their regions, and at the global scale. They will present the results of this survey here soon.

Reef Modeling

Simulating Coral Reef Growth
Check out this animation of a simple model output of reef growth on a continental shelf in response to sea level rise.  Many thanks to Don Middleton of NCAR's visualization lab


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The Institute for the Study of Society and Environment is part of the National Center for Atmospheric Research, which is managed by the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research and is sponsored by the National Science Foundation.