News Release

Deciphering environmental data from corals

Kick-off meeting for DFG Priority Programme "Tropical Climate Variability & Coral Reefs"

Business Announcement

MARUM - Center for Marine Environmental Sciences, University of Bremen

Coral reef near Aqaba, Jordan

image: Coral reef near Aqaba, Jordan view more 

Credit: MARUM/T. Felis

Corals and coral reefs store information about how the ocean-atmosphere system functioned in the past, but also about what environmental stresses they were exposed to. For example, instrumental records of sea surface observations and reef monitoring can be extended to provide a near-monthly record of past conditions.

The Priority Programme is coordinated by Dr. Thomas Felis (University of Bremen, MARUM). More than 40 scientists from ten universities, three Helmholtz Centres, one Max-Planck Institute and one Leibniz Centre are meeting for the kick-off meeting for the first funding phase at the University of Bremen from October 3 until 5. The programme will run for six years and has a very strong interdisciplinary focus to combine expertise in climate, environmental and ecosystem research. "Ultra-high resolution coral geochemistry provides a tool to understand the temporal response of corals and coral reefs to ongoing climate and environmental changes, and to reconstruct past tropical climate and environmental fluctuations," says Thomas Felis. "We can use these data in conjunction with advanced statistical methods, Earth system modeling, and observed ecosystem responses for improved predictions of future changes in tropical climate and coral reef ecosystems."

The three overarching scientific topics that the researchers are working on jointly are:

  • Large-scale ocean, climate and environment reconstructions
  • Coral and reef-scale response to current environmental stress
  • Climate, reef and proxy modelling – Climate and proxy advanced statistics

The second funding phase of the Priority Programme will be coordinated by Prof. Miriam Pfeiffer (University of Kiel).


More information:


Participating Institutions:

  • Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI), Potsdam
  • Freie Universität  Berlin
  • GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research, Kiel
  • Helmholtz Centre Potsdam German Research Centre for Geosciences (GFZ), Potsdam
  • MARUM – Center for Marine Environmental Sciences, University of Bremen
  • Max Planck Institute for Chemistry, Mainz
  • University of Bremen
  • University of Frankfurt
  • University of Gießen
  • University of Heidelberg
  • University of Kiel
  • University of Konstanz
  • University of Leipzig
  • University of Mainz
  • University of Potsdam
  • Leibniz Centre for Tropical Marine Research (ZMT), Bremen

MARUM produces fundamental scientific knowledge about the role of the ocean and the ocean floor in the total Earth system. The dynamics of the ocean and the ocean floor significantly impact the entire Earth system through the interaction of geological, physical, biological and chemical processes. These influence both the climate and the global carbon cycle, and create unique biological systems. MARUM is committed to fundamental and unbiased research in the interests of society and the marine environment, and in accordance with the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations. It publishes its quality-assured scientific data and makes it publicly available. MARUM informs the public about new discoveries in the marine environment and provides practical knowledge through its dialogue with society. MARUM cooperates with commercial and industrial partners in accordance with its goal of protecting the marine environment.


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