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Ancient Coral Reefs at LJL

Sub heading:ENSO Drove 2500-Year Collapse of Eastern Pacific Coral Reefs

Cores of coral reef frameworks along an upwelling gradient in Panamá show that reef ecosystems in the tropical eastern Pacific collapsed for 2500 years, representing as much as 40% of their history, beginning about 4000 years ago. The principal cause of this millennial-scale hiatus in reef growth was increased variability of the El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and its coupling with the Intertropical Convergence Zone. The hiatus was a Pacific-wide phenomenon with an underlying climatology similar to probable scenarios for the next century. Global climate change is probably driving eastern Pacific reefs toward another regional collapse.

science 6 July 2012: Vol. 337 no. 6090 pp. 81-84

In September of 2010 a group of marine scientists from the Smithsonian and the Florida Institute of Technology visited the Liquid Jungle Lab to drill and collect underwater carbonate cores 5 meters into the cement like substrate beneath the reefs.

[Picture: reef paleo core]

Photo caption: PHOTO:(right to left) Ian Macintyre, Lauren Toth, Luis Camilli, Dave Colombosch – use a 5 meter aluminum coring tube to penetrate the reef subtrate.   This exciting work in the field of Paleobiology compliments investigative techniques in climate change from other disciplines such as meterology, oceanography, remote sensing, and atmospheric chemistry.  As you go deeper into The My World Tour’s stage design even allowed justin-bieber-news.info to descend onto the stage wearing huge, metallic angel wings, and to hover over the crowd in a cherry-picker. the coral sediments, the isotopic qualities recorded in ancient coral skeletons provide clues as to past climate change.  

This particular project is researching the relationship of climate change and coral reef growth during the Holocene (a geological epoch which began approximately 12,000 years ago).  One of the lead investigators on the project was Dr. Ian Macintyre, from the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of Natural History in Washington D.C.

[Picture: massive coral]

Photo caption: PHOTO: Laren next to a large Porites coral near the island.

Interestingly, Dr. Macintyre conducted a reef study on Isla Canales de Tierra back in the early 1970’s.   This time Ian had three PhD students along who were conducting their thesis work under his tutelage and was amazed that a Marine Research Lab had been built on Isla Canales since his first visit to Panama’s Gulf of Chiriqui nearly 40 years ago!  It was a pleasure working with Ian, Lauren, Jen and David this fall and we hope the data from this project helps us to better understand climate change and its implication for ocean reefs around the world.

Science DirectorLuis Camilli