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Erin Massey/Medill

The Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology conducts the latest research in coral reef biology, ocean ecosystems, and the impacts of global warming

Hawaiian coral reefs mirror impacts of ocean warming and acidification

by Erin M. Massey
May 31, 2012


Erin Massey/Medill

Coral creates a sculptural reef in the waters of Coconut Island.

The Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology monitors the effects of global warming, pollutants and changing ocean pH levels on coral and other marine life. Coral is an indicator of a healthy - or stressed - ocean environments and the institute is the hub for all of the major coral reef research in the United States. 

Scientists and research students at the institute study a variety of subject areas including coral genetics, the impacts of climate change, rising ocean temperatures, ocean acidification and coral bleaching. 

Coral have sweeping economic and cultural value and offer coastal protection. The coral reefs near Hawaii are among the most vast and the healthiest in the world. Damage to the coral reefs and ocean ecosystems is a direct indicator of global impacts such as global warming. On a larger scale, the impacts on marine life influence the food supply and people's lives in numerous ways.