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Coral reefs face threats from ocean acidification and rising temperatures.

Learning about the origins of coral reefs

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Coral reefs or ‘Rainforest of the seas’ form some of the earth’s most diverse eco-systems. Coral reefs are found all over the world’s oceans. However, the ocean is acidifying because of the absorption of carbon dioxide in the ocean water. At the same time, ocean temperatures are rising. This is threatening coral reefs all around the world.

Beginning September 2019, a team of researchers will start an expedition in Hawaii to better understand coral reefs and the impact earth’s climate history is having on them.

The team will drill into 11 locations beneath the oceans around Hawaii, looking to pull up samples from fossilized coral reef systems. The information from the natural fossil reef’s will allow scientists to study the history of sea-level change in the ocean from the last 500,000 years.

The expedition is named as the Hawaiian Drowned Reefs Expedition. It is being conducted by the European Consortium for Ocean Research Drilling (ECORD). ECORD is an international body that conducts scientific drilling missions.

The study will also enable scientists to investigate the links between global climate change and global sea level change. This will help scientists develop a framework for studying the effects of climate change caused by human activity.

Records from fossilized coral reefs will allow scientists to understand how coral reef respond to quick changes in climate and sea-level. Scientists want to understand how reefs recover from disturbances in their natural environment.

The drilling phase of the project will take 60 days to complete. After this, the drilled cores will be analyzed to answer the key questions surrounding the origins and history of coral reefs.

One-half of the drilled fossils will be preserved for any future research needs. The fossil and shipboard data collected during the mission will be made available to any scientific researcher who wishes to study it.

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