Oxford. 27 October 2006. It was announced today that Earthwatch-supported scientist Dr. James Crabbe from the University of Bedfordshire, has been awarded the international Aviva/Earthwatch Award for Climate Change Research. The award will allow him to develop urgent research into the effects of climate change on the world's coral reefs.
The award, worth £6,000, will be used to purchase an underwater Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV), which can obtain high quality video images from depths previously uncharted, together with a laser tracking system that will enable the team to measure coral growth using high-resolution images. This new equipment will allow Dr. Crabbe and his team to predict the influence of climate change on tropical coral colonies.
"I am delighted to receive the award," says Dr. Crabbe. "The new technology will significantly progress our research, enabling us to work in much deeper water than regular diving will allow."
He continues, "A mere 1ºC rise in water temperature could lead to the long-term bleaching, and death, of coral reefs. The protective effects of the reef, for marine life and coastal communities, will be compromised and under threat. We need to know as soon as possible if such changes are happening and where."
Dr. Crabbe is currently leading two projects for environmental charity Earthwatch, Jamaica's Coral Reef and Coral of Southern Belize. By measuring 2,500 corals, Crabbe and a team of volunteers have already demonstrated that severe storms, increased in intensity by global climate change, play a key role in the loss of coral, significantly lowering growth and recruitment.
"The effect of climate change on coral reef colonies is complex and challenging to document," says Dr. James Burton, Earthwatch Science Manager. "The data acquired using the ROV will allow more accuracy in predicting how coral will respond to environmental change, and so a better understanding of what is needed to sustain the reefs. Earthwatch is very pleased to be supporting this project."
"Climate change is a complex phenomenon and our understanding of it depends upon our appreciation of its separate facets and manifestations," says Anthony Sampson, Director of Corporate Social Responsibility at Aviva. "That is why the work of so many different scientists is important in informing our developing understanding of it. Aviva is proud to have the opportunity of acknowledging the work of some of those scientists via these awards and is delighted this year to recognise Dr Crabbe's important work in respect of coral reefs and climate change."
For press information, images and interviews please contact Zoë Gamble, Senior Press Officer, Earthwatch. + 44 (0) 1865 318852 / 07725690469 / email@example.com