While conducting our experiments in Palau, we are accountants of sorts. We are keeping track of the carbon in seawater: adding up all the deposits and withdrawals and tallying all its different forms. How can we do this on a coral reef? Essentially, it boils down to (1) tracing changes in the carbon system parameters and (2) keeping track of time, or how long it takes for these changes to occur.
|The RATS keeps track of the different forms of carbon in |
seawater. Photo credit: Tom DeCarlo
|One of our instrument arrays on the barrier reef. The|
instrument on the right is one of our current profilers. Photo
credit: Tom DeCarlo
Putting it all together, we can determine the rates of photosynthesis/respiration and calcification/dissolution on a certain stretch of the Palauan barrier reef. This is really key information. Our experiments are in the same location as where these measurements were made over a decade ago, so we can begin tracking long-term changes in these rates. We can also test whether these rates are influenced by the temperature or chemistry of water flowing onto the reef. And we can compare these rates to other reef systems around the world (for example, where we conducted similar experiments in Taiwan).
- Tom DeCarlo