African Journal of Marine Science

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A Porites lutea climate record from Sodwana Bay, South Africa

S Hayman, R Uken


We report on a 41-year (winter 1970 to winter 2010) Porites lutea coral core climate record from Two-Mile Reef, Sodwana Bay, in the South-Western Indian Ocean. X-ray analysis, ultraviolet fluorescent photography and stable isotope (δ18O and δ13C) analysis revealed skeletal high-density, late-winter and low-density, late-summer bands with very little terrestrial humic input. An overall decrease in coral growth rate was seen over this period, possibly linked to global temperature and acidification trends. The stable isotopes δ18O and δ13C were predominantly out of phase, with calculated temperatures showing a slight increase over the 41-year period but with an overall decrease from 1994 to 2010. The insignificant ocean warming recorded in the coral supports the existence of a local, self-regulating, cold-water upwelling system from the adjacent shelf break and canyons that is potentially moderating coastal water temperature rise in Sodwana Bay.

Keywords: coral core, palaeoclimatology, stable isotopes, upwelling

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