Coral Reef Ecosystems

Coral Reef Ecosystems

Informing and Enhancing Coral Restoration





Who We Are

What We Do

Our research aims to identify corals that are more resilient in the presence of stressors like warming oceans, ocean acidification, and spread of novel diseases. Informing coral selection by managers and enhancing tools available to maximize coral resilience allows resource managers to be more effective with their restoration plans, especially when out-planting corals to the reef.

Drifter surface pressure observations contribute to decrease the total global forecast error by approximately 3%. In particular, case‐studies reveal that drifting buoy observations can be especially important to reduce the forecast error on complex or rapidly evolving cyclogenesis.

| Ian Enochs, Ph.D.

Principal Investigator

| Nicole Besemer

Caribbean Climate Operations Coordinator

| Graham Kolodziej

Lab Manager

| Michael Studivan, Ph.D.

Assistant Scientist

| Katherine R. Eaton

Coral Restoration Projects Manager

| Michael Jankulak

Data Manager

| Ana Palacio, Ph.D.

Assistant Scientist

| Alice Webb, Ph.D.

Post Doctoral Associate

| Benjamin Young, Ph.D.

Post Doctoral Associate

| Kayelyn Simmons, Ph.D.


| Albert Boyd

Coral Carbonate Chemist

| Ben Chomitz

Digital Morphology Technician

| Nash Soderberg

Research Associate

| Allyson DeMerlis

Doctoral Candidate

| Patrick Kiel

Doctoral Candidate

| Taylor Gill

Coral Program Intern

| Kenzie Cooke

Undergraduate Student

Areas of Research

Research Capabilities

Top News

NOAA Scientists Return to Cheeca Rocks, Find Reef Completely Bleached 

The growing concerns of coral bleaching due to the ongoing marine heatwave across South Florida, the Gulf of Mexico, and the greater Caribbean led scientists at NOAA’s Atlantic Oceanographic & Meteorological Lab (AOML) to return to Cheeca Rocks on July 31st and August 1st, 2023.

Ian Enochs floats above completely bleached Cheeca Rocks

Read More News

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. 
A colorful coral reef with black and yellow striped fish
Two scuba divers move a brain coral underwater as part of a rescue operation
Staghorn coral fragments for heat stress experiment

Research Impacts & Key Findings

Understanding Coral Reef Ecosystems

The long-term and comprehensive study of coral reef ecosystems improves understanding of how coral reefs respond to changes in the environment over time and predict how they will fare when exposed to increasing sea surface temperatures, ocean acidification, fishing, disease and pollution from land. AOML’s Coral Program has collected years of data and leads the in-situ climate change and ocean acidification monitoring for the Atlantic, Caribbean, and Gulf of Mexico.

Creating Partnerships

AOML’s Coral Program is an integrated and focused monitoring effort developing and maintaining strong partnerships with federal, state/territory, academic and other partners across the U.S. The program collaborates with partners such as NOAA National Marine Sanctuaries, NOAA Fisheries, NOAA Coral Reef Watch, NOAA National Centers for Ocean and Coastal Science, the University of Virgin Islands, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Environmental Moorings International, and and the National Park Service.

Critical High Impact Data

AOML’s Coral Program provides consistent, sustained, and long‐term measurements of key indicators that gauge the status and trends of coral reef health providing a greater understanding of how a changing climate is impacting the nation’s coral reef ecosystems.

Featured Publication

The influences of diurnal variability and ocean acidification on the bioerosion rates of two reef-dwelling Caribbean sponges

Morris, J., Enochs, I., Webb, A., de Bakker, D., Soderberg, N., Kolodziej, G., & Manzello, D. (2022). The influences of diurnal variability and ocean acidification on the bioerosion rates of two reef‐dwelling Caribbean sponges. Global Change Biology.

Abstract: Ocean acidification (OA) is expected to modify the structure and function of coral reef ecosystems by reducing calcification, increasing bioerosion, and altering the physiology of many marine organisms. Much of our understanding of these relationships is based on experiments with static OA treatments, although evidence suggests that the magnitude of diurnal fluctuations in carbonate chemistry may modulate the calcification response to OA. These light-mediated swings in seawater pH are projected to become more extreme with OA, yet their impact on bioerosion remains unknown. We evaluated the influence of diurnal carbonate chemistry variability on the bioerosion rates of two Caribbean sponges: the zooxanthellate Cliona varians and azooxanthellate Cliothosa delitrix. Replicate fragments from multiple colonies of each species were exposed to four precisely controlled pH treatments: contemporary static (8.05 ± 0.00; mean pH ± diurnal pH oscillation), contemporary variable (8.05 ± 0.10), future OA static (7.80 ± 0.00), and future OA variable (7.80 ± 0.10)…

Download Full Paper.


Outreach Partnerships

Coral City Camera

In collaboration with Coral Morphologic, a coral-themed art studio based in Miami, we have assisted in the deployment of the Coral City Camera (CCC), an underwater camera streaming live from an urban coral reef in Miami, Florida. The CCC is a public art and scientific research project led primarily by Coral Morphologic, and produced with Bridge Initiative and Bas Fisher Invitational.

Funding Sources and Partners

CIMAS' logo A fish and wave in front of a cloud
University of Miami 's Rescue a Reef logo