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Investigating coral reefs to help understand past and future climate change

way to reconstruct past climate change.

Using coral reefs as climatic archives started about 20 years ago. Initially, due to technical constraints, it was only possible to capture the last 10,000 years through coral reef drilling. To get datasets covering the entire period of the last deglaciation, it was crucial to find another technique. This became possible during a project where the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program (IODP) provided Camoin with the technology to drill down to 1100m recovering more than 600m of reef cores from 37 holes at depths ranging from 40 117m from the area around the island of Tahiti. Based on this initial success, the CHECREEF project was developed. CHECREEF is part of the European Science Foundation EUROCORES Programme EuroMARC. CHECREEF will look at data from both the Tahiti drilling site and an additional site in the Great Barrier Reef.

"We think that we will be able to reconstruct the sea level change going back 16-17,000 years in Tahiti and even further back in time in the Great Barrier Reef. With this we will be able to reconstruct sea surface temperature and salinity which are good indicators of the climatic changes at that time to see what happened to the reefs. We are pretty sure that we will achieve this goal within three years based on the datasets we have already collected," said Camoin.

The two sites provide a good basis for creating a picture of past climate change. Firstly, they are away from the regions of the world covered by ice during the last ice age. Secondly, the core sites are located in the tropical pacific, a crucial point of the globe where many climatic anomalies are born e.g. El Nino. In addition, the two sites are located in zones which are tectonically quiet unlike volcanic islands and continental margins. This is the rational behind the CHECREEF proposal. However, Camoin goes on to say that to get a clear picture and a very good dataset, it is necessary to investigate other sit
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Contact: Sofia Valleley
svalleley@esf.org
33-388-762-149
European Science Foundation
16-May-2007


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