Diane Thompson
Earth and Environment, Boston University, US

Tropical climate change & coral-reef ecosystems


In this talk, I am going to give an overview of my research program, which bridges the fields of marine ecology, paleoclimatology and modeling to assess tropical climate variability and its effects on coral reef ecosystems.  My work is motivated by the need to better understand the fingerprint of warming in the tropical Pacific Ocean and its implications for patterns of coral reef resilience under future climate-induced stress. Despite the importance of the tropical Pacific in climate variability worldwide, we still do not have a very good understanding of how the basin will respond to continued global climate change.  High-resolution paleoclimate records from corals and lake sediments can be used to extend historical observations and assess the response of the Pacifc to past climate forcing.  As an example, I’ll present a new wind reconstruction from a western tropical Pacific coral that supports a link between tropical Pacific trade winds and the rate of global warming over the past century.  Ultimately, my research is driven by a desire to preserve marine ecosystems.  Towards this goal, I’ll end with an overview of my most recent work using a Regional Ocean Modeling System developed for the Coral Triangle (CT-ROMS) and a Lagrangian particle tracking tool (TRACMASS) to investigate the probability of coral larval transport between reefs in this region.  This work highlights physical barriers to larval dispersal and identifies key larval source and sink regions that may promote recovery following disturbances and serve as targets for marine protected areas.

Time and place
Tuesday 8 March 2016, 15.15
Room C609, Arrhenius Laboratory, 6th floor