Hanscom Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Society, Meeting

Thursday, 16 November 2006, 1:15 PM Refreshments, 1:30 - 2:30 PM Talk

Hanscom Conference Center, Hanscom AFB, MA


Response of Coral Reefs to Climate Change:

Past Evolution to Forecast the Future

 André W. Droxler , Rice University, Houston, Texas


Occurrence and health of modern coral reefs worldwide have dramatically declined in the past decades and their future is predicted to be bleak. Local and regional stresses caused by direct human activities, such as among them physical destruction, increase turbidity and nutrients, and over fishing, can explain their decline in close proximity of human population concentrations. Global atmospheric carbon dioxide increase and related sea surface temperature rise in the past decades have negatively influenced the overall health of coral reefs. These stress factors are predicted to have in the next decades an even stronger global impact on coral reefs.

In the past, Earth global climate has changed at time scales ranging from millions of years to decades. Coral reefs had to adapt to those dramatic environmental modifications. Past examples of coral reef adaptation help understand their overall resiliency and perhaps their overall high diversity, but offer little hope for their immediate future in a human time scale point of view.

André W. Droxler is currently a Professor at Rice University in the Earth Science Department. He was born and raised in Switzerland. He received first a Diploma (equivalent to a Masterís degree) from University of Neuchâtel (Switzerland) in 1978 and pursued his graduate studies at the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences (RSMAS) - University of Miami (Florida) where he was awarded in 1984 a Ph. D. degree in Marine Geology. Following some post doctoral research years first at RSMAS and then at University of South Carolina, Columbia, South Carolina, he became a faculty member in January 1987 at Rice University, where is has been there since.

André W. Droxler has mainly focused is research in the past 20 years studying carbonate and mixed siliciclastic/carbonate deposits on slopes and basin floors surrounding modern carbonate platforms, barrier reefs, isolated banks, and atolls in terms of processes, evolution, and paleo oceanographic and climatic records. He has lead and currently is involved in research programs, spanning different time scales from late Quaternary, Plio-Pleistocene, Neogene, to Cenozoic, in periplatform and mixed siliciclastic/carbonate margin environments such as the Bahamas, the northern Nicaragua Rise, the Maldives, the Queensland Plateau, the offshore Belize and the South Texas Shelf. The strength and probably uniqueness of his research programs is based upon merging the expanding knowledge and understanding from the two different research scientific communities, often evolving in parallel of each other, of open marine paleoceanographers/ paleoclimatologists and carbonate sedimentologists.