New DFG Priority Programme "Tropical Climate Variability and Coral Reefs"

The interdisciplinary program is coordinated by MARUM and Kiel University.

The Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (German Research Foundation, DFG) is establishing a Priority Programme on "Tropical Climate Variability and Coral Reefs - A Past to Future Perspective on Current Rates of Change at Ultra-High Resolution". Coordinator of the new programme is Thomas Felis from MARUM - Center for Marine Environmental Sciences at the University of Bremen. In a second phase of the programme, Miriam Pfeiffer of Kiel University (CAU/ Kiel Marine Science) will take over the coordination. The network is one of 14 newly established Priority Programmes for 2021, which will be funded for an initial three-year period with a total of around 85 million euros.

The approved Priority Programme makes an important contribution to the highly topical issue of the effects of global warming on tropical climate variability and coral reef ecosystems. The programme addresses societally relevant issues such as the stability of tropical reef communities and the effects of climate extremes on tropical island nations and countries. Here, the increasingly frequent occurrence of so-called coral bleaching events as well as of heatwaves, droughts and cyclones is of particular importance. The aim is to quantify climate and environmental changes in the course of current warming and in warm periods of the past. This will provide a scientific framework for effective climate-ecosystem management and the development of strategies for action.

The use of the calcareous skeletons of tropical corals as climate and environmental archives is an important element of paleoclimate and paleoenvironmental research. Building on this, the programme will apply innovative analytical methods to obtain ultra-high-resolution information, in order to gain precisely dated rates of change in monthly to weekly resolution. The combination of these analytical results with innovative statistical methods, Earth system modelling and observed ecosystem responses will lead to more reliable projections of climate and environmental variability of the tropics and coral reef ecosystems.

The strongly interdisciplinary Priority Programme will bring together the expertise of the German science community in the fields of climate, environmental and ecosystem research in a sustainable manner.

Coral reefs
© MARUM – Zentrum für Marine Umweltwissenschaften, Universität Bremen, T.Felis

Coral reefs, like this one in the Red Sea, are the focus of the new DFG Priority Programme "Tropical Climate Variability and Coral Reefs".

Thomas Felis
Miriam Pfeiffer

Thomas Felis (MARUM) will coordinate the new DFG Priority Programme. Miriam Pfeiffer (Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel) will take over from the second programme phase.

Current article about Miriam Pfeiffer's research:

Current article about Miriam Pfeiffer's research:

Diver under water

The climate data stored in corals helps us to understand current extreme weather phenomena, such as the ongoing drought in Australia.

Kiel Marine Science

Kiel Marine Science is devoted to excellent and responsible ocean research at the interface between humans and the ocean. It brings together a variety of research fields such as climate research, coastal research and botany but also law and economics. Researchers from these different fields look at both the risks the ocean poses to people as well as the opportunities it provides. The success of Kiel Marine Science is based on close interdisciplinary cooperation in research and teaching between researchers from seven faculties at Kiel University.

To the Kiel Mariene Science website

Scientific contact: MARUM

Dr. Thomas Felis
MARUM - Center for Marine Environmental Sciences at the University of Bremen
+49(0)421/ 218-65751


Scienctific contact: CAU

Prof. Dr. Miriam Pfeiffer
Kiel University (CAU)


Press contact:

Friederike Balzereit
Science Communication Kiel Marine Science (KMS), CAU