Coral tells all: rising sea levels and temperatures

Scientists utilizing coral coring to discover the past.

Coral cores from the Indian Ocean were analyzed to understand how they are affected by changing ocean currents and water temperatures according to Australian scientists.

In an study published in Nature Science, April 1st 2014, scientist Dr. Jens Zinke and colleagues discovered how La Nina, climate swing in the Pacific, affects the Leeuwin current along with changes that our oceans are undergoing.

The La Nina events cause for a stronger Leeuwin Current (LC), higher coastal sea levels and warmer sea surface temperatures. These currents located just off of Western Australia, are used as a  footprint among the variance in climate throughout the decades.

According to Dr. Zinke, they “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,”. With this information they were able to determine records of climate variability dating back to 1795.

Researchers conclude that global warming and sea level rising is evident and increases over time. In order to protect our coral reefs in Western Australia we must find a way to stop the epidemic from worsening.


  1. J. Zinke, A. Rountrey, M. Feng, S.-P. Xie, D. Dissard, K. Rankenburg, J.M. Lough, M.T. McCulloch. Corals record long-term Leeuwin current variability including Ningaloo Niño/Niña since 1795Nature Communications, 2014; 5 DOI: 10.1038/ncomms4607
  2. Australian Institute of Marine Science. “Corals don’t lie: Centuries of rising sea levels and temperature data revealed.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 1 April 2014. <>.

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