Tropical Climate Variability & Coral Reefs (SPP 2299)

Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) Priority Programme

Tropical Climate Variability and Coral Reefs

A Past to Future Perspective on Current Rates of Change at Ultra-High Resolution

SPP 2299

Coordinator: Thomas Felis, MARUM, University of Bremen

Programme Committee: Miriam Pfeiffer, CAU – Kiel University

In May 2020, the Senate of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) established the Priority Programme „Tropical Climate Variability and Coral Reefs – A Past to Future Perspective on Current Rates of Change at Ultra-High Resolution“ (SPP 2299). The programme is designed to run for six years. The present call invited proposals for the first three-year funding period. The funded projects are expected to start in late 2021/early 2022.

The strongly in­ter­dis­cip­lin­ary Pri­or­ity Pro­gramme will bring to­gether the ex­pert­ise of the Ger­man sci­ence com­munity in the fields of cli­mate, en­vir­on­mental and eco­sys­tem re­search in a sus­tain­able man­ner, and will benefit from participation of researchers from various institutions (Universities, Helmholtz Centres, Max-Planck Institutes, Leibniz Centres and Institutes).

Aims and Scope

Climate change, in particular the rise in tropical sea surface temperatures, is the greatest threat to coral reef ecosystems today and causes climatic extremes affecting the livelihood of tropical societies. Assessing how future warming will change coral reef ecosystems and tropical climate variability is therefore of extreme urgency.

Ultra-high resolution coral geochemistry provides a tool to understand the temporal response of corals and coral reefs to ongoing climate and environmental change, to reconstruct past tropical climate and environmental variability and to use these data in conjunction with advanced statistical methods, earth system modelling and observed ecosystem responses for improved projections of future changes in tropical climate and coral reef ecosystems.

The Priority Programme aims to enhance our current understanding of tropical marine climate variability and its impact on coral reef ecosystems in a warming world, by quantifying climatic and environmental changes during both the ongoing warming and past warm periods on timescales relevant for society.

The programme aims to provide an ultra-high resolution past to future perspective on current rates of change to project how tropical marine climate variability and coral reef ecosystems will change in a warming world.


The Priority Programme is organised around three major research topics in order to fuel interdisciplinary collaboration among various disciplines and to successfully address the overall scientific objectives:

  • Large-scale ocean, climate & environment reconstructions
  • Coral & reef-scale response to current environmental stress
  • Climate, reef & proxy modelling – Climate & proxy advanced statistics

For details on research questions, key variables and methods of the three research topics, see the proposal to establish this Priority Programme, available from the coordinator.

Further Information