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Dr Erica Hendy

The past and future of coral reefs; Reconstructing tropical climate and environmental variability

Coral reefs are geological structures made by living organisms from carbonate. I research the past and future of these fascinating ecosystems, and their use in documenting tropical climate variability. The study of coral reefs intersects the disciplines of biology, geology and geochemistry, and for this reason I have a joint academic position at the University of Bristol shared between the two Schools of Biological Sciences and Earth Sciences.

My research group undertakes studies that span from micron-scale geochemical probing of skeletons to global-scale models of reef distribution. We use the skeletons of massive coral colonies to look at past climates, environmental conditions and biological responses. For example, using boron isotopes to monitor how coral control calcification when stressed by reduced seawater pH or changes in water flow regimes. We also apply statistical and mechanistic modelling approaches, driven by biogeochemical and climate model output, to project forward, or reconstruct past coral reef response to global climate change and ocean acidification.

Research keywords

  • coral reefs
  • climate change
  • ocean acidification
  • tropical palaeoclimatology
  • isotope geochemistry
  • scleractinian coral
  • biomineralization

Researchers