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3D Coral Reef Research

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3D Coral Reef Research

Make a gift today for a healthier reef tomorrow. 

Coral reefs are amongst the most biodiverse ecosystems on the planet because of the huge amount of complexity built by the corals themselves. Unfortunately, coral reefs are threatened by increasing ocean temperatures driven by climate change. When coral dies - the reef dies, and we lose all the structural complexity upon which the other reef organisms depend. Climate change and rising ocean temperatures are causing mass coral bleaching events, and these events are increasing in severity and frequency.


At the University of Sydney, we are using our advances in large area high resolution 3D mapping to support various reef restoration efforts. For instance, we are trying to identify the key features of reef structure that cause them to support such high biodiversity, asking questions about what to do if its lost and how can we get it back. Secondly, we are trying to identify the types of coral that grow best in these extreme high temperature and low pH conditions.



Associate Professor William Figueira is the co-lead (along with Professor Maria Byrne) of the 3D Reefs program. The program captures hundreds of photos from individual coral colonies and thousands of photos from large areas of reef and repurposes them into 3D models. These models provide precise data about the impact of losing complex coral reef structures and inform measures to reduce the severity of future damage and conserve reef biodiversity. His research on global warming and coral bleaching was recently published in one of the world’s most influential scientific journals, Nature.


The University of Sydney is working to develop research partnerships to harness the power of 3D modelling to inform reef conservation and restoration efforts in the face of devastating coral bleaching. 


Generous donors have made much of Associate Professor Figueira’s work possible, in particular the mapping of reefs across the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea to better understand the structures needed for biodiversity regeneration. 


Still more to be done

Please consider making a gift today to enable the team to continue to conduct vital research to help protect our reef and the ecosystems that depend upon it. More funding could enable the rehabilitation of more reef. If 10 people each gave $40 each, it could enable up to 20 square metres of 3D-printed reef.  


Your support for this exciting research is greatly appreciated. Please make a gift today for a healthier reef tomorrow. 



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