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Kick-off Meet­ing for DFG Pri­or­ity Pro­gramme “Trop­ical Cli­mate Vari­ab­il­ity & Coral Reefs” October 2022

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Rising sea surface temperatures threaten tropical coral reefs, as these ecosystems are sensitive to a changing environment. The Priority Programme “Tropical Climate Variability & Coral Reefs” (SPP 2299), funded by the German Research Foundation (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft – DFG) with about 12 Million Euro, aims to improve our understanding of tropical marine climate variability and its impacts on coral reef ecosystems in a warming world. This will be accomplished by quantifying climate and environmental changes both during the current warming and during past warm periods on time scales relevant to society.

Cor­als and coral reefs store in­form­a­tion about how the ocean-at­mo­sphere sys­tem func­tioned in the past, but also about what en­vir­on­mental stresses they were ex­posed to. For ex­ample, in­stru­mental re­cords of sea sur­face ob­ser­va­tions and reef mon­it­or­ing can be ex­ten­ded to provide a near-monthly re­cord of past con­di­tions.

The Pri­or­ity Pro­gramme is co­ordin­ated by Dr. Thomas Felis (Uni­versity of Bre­men, MARUM). More than 40 sci­ent­ists from ten uni­versit­ies, three Helm­holtz Centres, one Max-Planck In­sti­tute and one Leib­niz Centre are meet­ing for the kick-off meet­ing for the first fund­ing phase at the Uni­versity of Bre­men from Oc­to­ber 3 un­til 5. The pro­gramme will run for six years and has a very strong in­ter­dis­cip­lin­ary fo­cus to com­bine ex­pert­ise in cli­mate, en­vir­on­mental and eco­sys­tem re­search. “Ul­tra-high res­ol­u­tion coral geo­chem­istry provides a tool to un­der­stand the tem­poral re­sponse of cor­als and coral reefs to on­go­ing cli­mate and en­vir­on­mental changes, and to re­con­struct past trop­ical cli­mate and en­vir­on­mental fluc­tu­ations,” says Thomas Felis. “We can use these data in con­junc­tion with ad­vanced stat­ist­ical meth­ods, Earth sys­tem mod­el­ing, and ob­served eco­sys­tem re­sponses for im­proved pre­dic­tions of fu­ture changes in trop­ical cli­mate and coral reef eco­sys­tems.”

The three over­arch­ing sci­entific top­ics that the re­search­ers are work­ing on jointly are:

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

The second fund­ing phase of the Pri­or­ity Pro­gramme will be co­ordin­ated by Prof. Miriam Pfeif­fer (Uni­versity of Kiel).


Dr. Thomas Felis
Uni­versity of Bre­men
MARUM – Cen­ter for Mar­ine En­vir­on­mental Sci­ences
Phone: +49 421 218 65751

Participating Institutions:

  • Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI), Potsdam
  • Freie Universität Berlin
  • GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research, Kiel
  • Helmholtz Centre Potsdam German Research Centre for Geosciences (GFZ), Potsdam
  • MARUM – Center for Marine Environmental Sciences, University of Bremen
  • Max Planck Institute for Chemistry, Mainz
  • University of Bremen
  • University of Frankfurt
  • University of Gießen
  • University of Heidelberg
  • University of Kiel
  • University of Konstanz
  • University of Leipzig
  • University of Mainz
  • University of Potsdam
  • Leibniz Centre for Tropical Marine Research (ZMT), Bremen

Original article published at MARUM.

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