NewsOceans and Climate

Ghosts of oceans past

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Science  13 Nov 2015:
Vol. 350, Issue 6262, pp. 752-755
DOI: 10.1126/science.350.6262.752

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Andrea Dutton's hunt for ancient coral reefs has taken her from white sand beaches along the Indian Ocean to wave-beaten cliffs beside the Caribbean. Last year, Dutton made the trek from her lab at the University of Florida in Gainesville to a Mexican amusement park carved from the seaside jungle of the Yucatán Peninsula to sample the rocks that the park's builders had cut and exposed: the remains of coral reefs more than 100,000 years old. Dutton seeks out ancient reefs to understand what's in store for Earth's coastlines. She's one of a small cadre of scientists scouring the planet for evidence of how high the oceans rose when polar ice melted during previous global warming spells.

  • * Warren Cornwall is a freelance writer in Bellingham, Washington.