In a new research project that was officially launched this month, Israeli, Italian and Palestinian scientists will work together to try to predict what the condition of Red and Mediterranean Sea corals will be in 100 years time and what effects rising seawater temperatures and increased acidity may have on their health.

he European Research Council (ERC), an agency supporting cutting-edge research in the EU, has awarded a grant of more than three million Euros to conduct a study on corals and global warming to Prof. Zvy Dubinsky, a leading researcher of aquatic photosynthesis at Israel’s Bar-Ilan University, and coral biologist Stefano Goffredo and Guiseppe Falini, an expert in bio-mineralization, of Italy’s University of Bologna.

A team of additional Italian and Israeli scientists as well as Palestinian scientists and students from Al-Quds University in East Jerusalem, will also collaborate on the project, to be carried out over a period of five years.

The main goal of the project entitled “Corals and Global Warming: The Mediterranean versus the Red Sea (CoralWarm)” is to create a mathematical model which will enable scientists to foresee how Mediterranean and tropical coral reefs will change over the next 50 to100 years.

Corals are major bio-constructors. They build tri-dimensional habitats which then host the rest of the food chain actors. A coral reef reduction or deterioration will have major impact on both the environment and the economy through its effects on fishery, tourism and the protection of coastlines that is now guaranteed by tropical coral reefs.