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Topic B

Coral & reef-scale response to current environmental stress

This research topic aims to understand how corals and coral reef ecosystems respond to increasing frequency of stress events. Recent progress in coral geochemistry allows, for the first time, to fully characterize the biogeochemical processes during coral calcification and its response to environmental stressors such as temperature extremes and ocean acidification.

Achieving goals of this topic requires knowledge of regional and basin scale temperature and biogeochemical trends and variability (Topic A), and likely future pathways of warming, ocean acidification and the nutrient cycle (Topic C). 20th century warming and internal variability differs markedly between tropical seas, and differing background conditions likely impact coral reef ecosystems in different ways highlight the importance of extensive knowledge of these changes.

Overarching research questions

What can we learn from geochemical proxies regarding coral calcification processes? Are coral calcification rates already declining? If so, what genera/species are most vulnerable?

How do large-scale stressors such as rising temperatures and ocean acidification interact with local stressors (river runoff, nutrient loads, pollution) over time? Can we improve coral resilience by limiting the latter?

How do corals of various genera/species respond to rising temperatures and environmental stress events, and how will this affect coral reef ecosystems in the near future?

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