|Dongsha Atoll in the South China Sea|
Dongsha Atoll, the only coral atoll in Taiwan, lies directly in the path of these waves. As the internal waves reach Dongsha, they shoal up the slope of the atoll, bringing cool, nutrient-rich, and low pH seawater to the shallow coral communities. Exposure to this water may enhance coral nutrition, and help buffer the corals from heat-induced bleaching - the loss of the symbiotic algae that corals need to survive. Internal waves potentially make Dongsha Atoll a unique coral reef, well suited to be resistant and resilient to the effects of climate change and ocean acidification.
We will test how corals on Dongsha Atoll are affected by internal waves. To do this, we will deploy a series of instruments on the reef to track how internal waves bring deeper water towards the surface and onto the reef. We can test how the corals respond to internal waves with a variety of tools - tracing chemical changes in the seawater, examining the structure and chemistry of coral skeletons, and studying coral population genetics.