Florida corals tell of cold spells and dust bowls past, foretell weather to come by Lauren Pogostin

Summary: Scientist have been looking for a way to determine past weather patterns in the ocean, the same way as tree rings show weather patterns on land. Recently, it has been discovered that coral contains chemical signals of past water temperatures. Through the analysis of coral from the subtropical waters of Dry Tortugas National Park near the Florida Keys, it has been discovered that there is a 60-75 year-long cycle of ocean warming and cooling. This pattern has been occurring since the 1730s. This cycle is called the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation. By measuring the strontium-to-calcium ration in corals, scientists are able to determine past sea surface temperatures. By using a dentist's drill to collect and analyze samples, they were able to see sections showing as short as one month ago, and going as far back as 1837. With the help of two other corals' records, the scientists were able to track a total of 278 years' worth of surface temperatures, going all the way back to 1733.

Dry Tortugas National Park

Analysis: The new method for looking at weather patterns may be used in other areas of water. These patterns are crucial to look at for environmental purposes. We can see the change of these patterns over time as time intervals of changing from warmer to colder water temperatures change. Analyzing the temperature of the water will allow scientist to be able to look at the general temperature in the area; and therefore look at the weather at that time.

coral at the Dry Tortugas National Park

Takeaway: I picked this article originally because it sounded very interesting. Water temperatures and levels have been a concern to environmentalist for a long time. This new way of looking at ocean temperature patterns, allows for scientists to gather more information in the area. I hope that this is only the start of using this method of analyzing the chemicals in coral and that it is used all over to look at all different types of temperature patterns and see the change over time.

Credits:

Created with images by NOAA's National Ocean Service - "Coral and Ulua"

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