One of the most exciting new fields of science is global change. Global change refers to transformations in any aspect of the earth system and it is a discipline that brings together biologists,
chemists, geologists, physicists, and social scientists. One of the most pressing issues in global change is the impact of human activities on the environment.
What do corals have to do with global change? A central principle of geology is
called uniformitarianism; this doctrine states past geologic events can be explained by processes observable today, that, in effect, The present is the key to the past. Paleoclimatologists, however, believe that the converse of this statement is also
true, that the past is the key to the present and even the future. Coral records give us important clues about how the tropical climate system operates, which, in turn, will make it possible for scientists to predict future global change. Long
paleoclimatic records also supply information about the natural range of climatic variation and provide a baseline against which anthropogenic (man-made) climate change can be detected. Paleoclimatologists come here, to warm shallow waters perfect for
coral growth, to unlock the earth's >climate history.
INSTAAR, University of Colorado at Boulder
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