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2023 Geodynamics Program

THURSDAYS: 1:30 – 2:30 P.M.

(Unless otherwise noted on speaker schedule)

Coral Reef Sensing and Solutions (Geo-Ecology and New Technology)

Interdisciplinary coral reef research themes in the Earth and Life sciences

Coral reefs are in crisis. Climate change and other human-based impacts (overfishing, pollution & diseases) have led to a total loss of about 25% of our reefs over the past 30 years, and 67% of our remaining reefs are on their way to extinction. At the current rate of loss, we are projected to lose most of our reefs by 2050. Clearly, the coral reef crisis needs solutions.

Interdisciplinary science, including students, is needed to better understand how reefs work. And we need the field to move well beyond ‘traditional reef science’ which involves diver-based cataloging life on the reef, which is limited by depth and bottom time and is also highly visually observational.

We need the ability to detect and diagnose coral and reef changes at the onset. This will lead us to better understand the mechanisms of change. Central to this knowledge is a better understanding of the key components of healthy coral reefs and measuring how they work. Given the global demise of reefs, our window of opportunity for gathering this information is diminishing. Technological advances such as ROVs and sensors may be able to help us advance the science and capture information that can augment traditional diver-based observations. We need sensors and technology to be able to do this. And we need this to develop solutions, or intervention strategies, for reefs that are not able to recover on their own.

The goal of this Geodynamics course is to explore and examine the insights provided by current reef sensing technology and methods. Through Lectures + Field projects students will learn to deploy, test and measure new (and traditional) sensing technology. They will brainstorm new needs and emerging science tools. And they will have the opportunity to interact with local stakeholders for on-the-ground perspectives and interactions. Speakers will range from WHOI scientists to invited faculty and US (federal) or local managers. We outline a proposed field trip to the US Virgin Islands (St. John or St. Croix) for in situ measurements and experiences. We look forward to including students with diverse science and engineering backgrounds in this course.