Researchers from The University of Western Australia, CSIRO and the University of San Diego teamed up recently to discover how the corals from Australian reefs are coping with changing water conditions. By examining the skeletons of the calcifying coral Porites sp., scientists were able to construct a time table of changing currents and temperatures of Australian waters. Researches collected and analyzed core samples of Porites colonies from the Houtman-Abrolhos Islands, and with chemical composition data reconstructed the surface temperatures for the historical span of 215 years (1795 to 2010). Published in the International Journal Nature Communications the findings lend insight into how corals are affected by changes in environmental conditions: “Due to the lack of long-term observations of marine climate we used long coral cores, with annual growth bands similar to tree rings, to provide a record of the past. We obtained records of past sea temperatures by measuring the chemical composition of the coral skeleton from year to year. This showed how changing winds and ocean currents in the eastern Indian Ocean are driven by climate variability in the western tropical Pacific Ocean,” said Dr Jens Zinke. Read more here!