Category: Corals

Investigating the impacts of climate change on reef-building corals using robotic arms 

Blue lights fill the room. The faint smell of salt emanates throughout the space as wires and tubes intricately suspended over robotic arms move along custom-built tracks over four rows of tanks filled with seawater – and fragments of critically-endangered corals. In the Experimental Reef Lab, scientists at NOAA’s Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory (AOML) and the Cooperative Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Studies (CIMAS) are investigating how crucial reef-building coral species are affected by the impacts of climate change using a suite of open-source robotic arms designed and built at AOML.

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12 Days of AOML Research

Happy Holidays to all!  As we close out 2023, join us as we look back at some of our top research highlights this year! From responding to heat waves to setting records and launching new tech, our dedicated team continues to push the boundary in an effort to support NOAA’s mission to build a climate-ready […]

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Digital Coral Morphology

Digital Coral Morphology Advancing coral conservation & restoration by exploring structure and reef complexity SCROLL TO LEARN MORE <!-- --> Corals provide the physical structure that supports a staggering and vast diversity of life on a reef ecosystem, but the persistence of these complex structures is heavily influenced by changes in ocean chemistry and the [...]
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A Bold and Unprecedented New Effort to Tackle the Vast Threats to Marine Ecosystems

NOAA announced $4.2 million in funding awarded to a collaborative project entitled the Florida Regional Ecosystems Stressors Collaborative Assessment (FRESCA), co-led by NOAA’s Atlantic Oceanographic & Meteorological Laboratory (AOML) and the University of Miami, and involving seven different academic and research institutions.

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New study establishes monitoring framework for evaluating reef persistence under climate change and ocean acidification

Webb, A.E., Enochs, I.C., van Hooidonk, R. et al. Restoration and coral adaptation delay, but do not prevent, climate-driven reef framework erosion of an inshore site in the Florida Keys. Sci Rep 13, 258 (2023).

For reef framework to persist, calcium carbonate production by corals and other calcifiers needs to outpace loss due to physical, chemical, and biological erosion. This balance is both delicate and dynamic and is currently threatened by the effects of ocean warming and acidification. Although the protection and recovery of ecosystem functions are at the center of most restoration and conservation programs, decision makers are limited by the lack of predictive tools to forecast habitat persistence under different emission scenarios. To address this, we developed a modelling approach, based on carbonate budgets, that ties species-specific responses to site-specific global change using the latest generation of climate models projections (CMIP6). We applied this model to Cheeca Rocks…

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What a Marine Heatwave Means for South Florida

A marine heatwave has spread across the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean with temperatures ranging between one and three degrees Celsius (~2-4.5˚F) above average. Ocean temperatures around south Florida are the warmest on record for the month of July (dating back to 1981). Marine heatwaves are not unprecedented, but their influence on tropical storm development and coral reef health, as well as the persistence of the current heatwave, are among the causes for concern. 

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Threats to Coral

Threats to Coral Reefs Identifying and Addressing Threats to Reef Communities  JUMP TO MARINE HEAT WAVE OR SCROLL TO LEARN MORE What We Mean by "Threats" Coral reefs face a variety of anthropogenic and environmental stressors from warming ocean temperatures and bleaching events to disease brought on by climate change and increased human activity, leading [...]
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AOML Interns Dive into DNA Extraction and Processing Coral Samples for ‘Omics Analyses 

Only a few weeks into summer, Coral Program Interns Lorelei Ing, Taylor Gill, Zachary Zagon and Kenzie Cooke have been hard at work as they process coral samples and perform DNA extractions in preparation for ‘Omics analyses that will help to better understand how the genetic structure of corals influences their resilience to environmental stressors. The Coral Program falls within the Ocean Chemistry and Ecosystems Division (OCED) at NOAA’s Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory (AOML).

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