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CCPO Speaker Looking in Coral for Hurricane Data

A researcher from the University of Maryland's Chesapeake Biological Laboratory will present a seminar at Old Dominion University's Center for Coastal Physical Oceanography Monday, Nov. 14, on the possibilities that coral formations may be a repository of information about past hurricane activity.

Kelly "Hali" Halimeda Kilbourne will speak on "Testing Coral-based Tropical Cyclone Reconstructions: An Example from Puerto Rico" at 3:30 p.m. in Room 3200 of the Innovation Research Park Building 1. The seminar is free and open to the public, as is a reception with refreshments that begins at 3 p.m.

By studying the calcium carbonate in coral rock, scientists have found that hurricane information can be revealed. Lighter oxygen isotopes can be left behind in coral during periods of very heavy rainfall. Since hurricanes are the main source of extreme rainfall in the tropical oceans, past hurricane events can be dated to the days of their impact on the coral by looking at the increased concentration within the coral of the lighter oxygen isotopes.

But Kilbourne's research in Puerto Rico has found that rainfall not associated with hurricanes as well as river discharges can complicate the reading of the coral record. She says her study "highlights the importance of understanding the coastal zone tropical cyclone isotopic signal and the importance of choosing a climate proxy organism that will continue to calcify in the face of tropical cyclone related disturbances."

This article was posted on: November 13, 2011

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