Researchers find reliable climate change data in nearby corals | 7/30/2019 | Staff
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Tracking climate change through corals has historically meant studying coral in remote locations, away from civilization and the related environmental conditions that might affect the data. But research compiled by University of Guam faculty and published in the Journal of Coastal Research proves otherwise.

"We're not the first ones to find climate signals in coral in this region, but what we did was we found climate signal in a bizarre place," said Mark A. Lander, an assistant professor of meteorology at UOG's Water & Environmental Research Institute of the Western Pacific and co-author of the report.

Master - Thesis - Tomoko - Bell - UOG

The 2011 master's thesis of Tomoko Bell, a former UOG environmental studies student and lead author of the report, studied 50 years' worth of data from a P. lutea coral colony off of Gab Gab Beach in Apra Harbor—a shallow-water, near-shore, economically and recreationally active area. Bell's results in Apra Harbor showed the same long-term warming trend shown in other local and regional meteorological records.

"Apra Harbor has Navy ships, beaches, and people are snorkeling, but we got a climate signal, and it goes against the grain of what people think needs to be done to get climate data," Lander said. "Most scientists who set out to retrieve climate signals from coral try to find pristine, clean, undisturbed, deeper water locations."

Problem - Locations - Difficulties - Inaccessibility - Researchers

The problem with using undisturbed locations are the logistical difficulties in drilling the coral and inaccessibility, which prevents researchers from closely monitoring environmental variables that might influence the chemical signal in the coral.

Bell's research consisted of drilling into the coral with a special tool and extracting samples from different periods of the coral's growth. She determined the strontium to calcium ratio of each sample, which shows an inverse...
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