Geography and Environment


Virtual Cabinet of Curiosities

11. Bleached coral, Prof. Rob Wilby

Mass bleaching of coral reefs is an early symptom of dangerous climate change. When sea surface temperatures push beyond 30°C the algae that give corals their stunning colours begin to perish.

I collected this piece of dead coral from a Malaysian beach following a violent storm which had washed it ashore. When I look at it I am reminded of the fragility of the natural systems on which we all depend for clean water, food and energy. My research uses models of the climate system to anticipate the impacts of human-induced climate change on river basins and cities. This work has taken me to more than 40 countries. Whether managing floods in Australia, heat waves in London, or drought in Yemen, nations are preparing for the threats and opportunities presented by climate change.

More about Rob's research