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Robust Corals

Coral Reef Hydrodynamics and Ocean Acidification Exposure

With a recent grant from the Physical Oceanography program at NSF, we (J. Alonso, S. Monismith, C.B. Woodson, V. Chirayath [grad student], J. Rogers [post-doc], S. Maticka [grad student], K. Swinson [grad student]) are conducting high resolution measurements to determine the drivers of coral reef circulation in shallow fringing reefs on Ofu. We will be using a UAV to develop 3D maps of the shallow back reef and extensive measurements to quantify pressure gradients, volumetric flow rates, and drag coefficients. Using our results we will develop parameterizations for coastal ocean circulation models. We also aim to understand how the hydrodynamics of this reef influence the reef carbon cycle and exposure to ocean acidification.

We are also working with colleagues at Stanford University (S. Monismith, R. Dunbar, S. Palumbi) to understand carbon chemistry dynamics on shallow coral reefs in Ofu (American Samoa) part of the National Park of American Samoa. Back reefs on Ofu experience temperatures as high as 32 C and pH as low as 7.6, yet the corals are thriving. We are using a control volume approach where we can measure the fluxes of different forms of carbon into and out of the reef in order to understand how these corals are able to survive in this extreme environment, and how these corals may be a key for the corals of the future in a warmer, acidified ocean.

Check out the minidocumentary below on strong corals developed by Steve Palumbi’s group in conjunction with Garthwait-Griffin Films.

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant Number 1536618. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

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