Professor Malcolm McCulloch’s research addresses important contemporary issues such as the impacts of climate change, ocean acidification and direct human activities on coral reefs. He has developed innovative new indicators of how these processes have affected coral reefs over timescales ranging from years to decades and many centuries by utilising geochemical records preserved in the skeletons of long-lived corals.
He has shown, for example, how boron isotopic compositions in corals reflect changes in seawater pH as well as the critical conditions under which corals precipitate their calcium carbonate skeleton. This rapidly growing area of research is providing insights into how the combined effect of CO2-driven acidification and ocean warming is affecting the sustainability of both deep as well as shallow-water coral reef environments.
Malcolm has also developed geochemical proxies to determine changes in ocean temperature, salinity and sediment/nutrient inputs into coral reefs, with his research having important implications for the management of coastal catchments, the resilience of corals to climate change, and the capacity of the oceans to serve as a major sink for CO2.
Interest and expertise
Earth and environmental sciences
Geology, Chemical oceanography, Climate sciences, Geochemistry