Follow me on my Research Group page
My main research interest focuses on developing and analyzing high-resolution proxy records of past climate and environmental variability. I specialize in oceanography and climatology and the reconstruction of high-resolution climate records from massive tropical coral colonies. The coral colonies were collected at various locations in the tropics and the changes in stable isotopes and trace elements concentrations in the coral skeleton allows for the development of spatiotemporal networks of proxy records to decipher the changing oceanographic conditions and global climate change of the past. In order to improve future climate change projections, we need to better understand the changes of the past.
One central question in my research is the reproducibility of climate proxies from individual coral colonies of a single region, because the oceanographic and climate interpretations are only as accurate as the proxy allows. Another important research question for me is how has our natural climate varied over various time-scales from sub-seasonal, annual, interannual (patterns of El Niño/La Niña), decadal (Pacific Decadal Oscillation), and multi-decadal.
Furthermore, the state of coral reef ecosystems across the tropics are under severe threat due to ocean acidification from anthropogenic CO2 increase in the atmosphere that is taken up by our oceans. My research has already shown the impact and impairment of marine calcifying organisms’ ability to secrete calcium carbonate skeletons, which may hinder our ability to accurately reconstruct and interpret climate proxies in the future.
My newest project, funded by the DAAD-BMBF from the "Make Our Planet Great Again" programme (#MOPGA) will investigate the changes to seawater pH in our tropical oceans prior to and since the Industrial Revolution through the analysis of boron isotopes in massive tropical corals. More information on the programme and a brief description of the project can be found in the press release here (https://www.leibniz-zmt.de/en/news-at-zmt/news/overview/oasis-project.html).
Stay up-to-date with the research in our OASIS Project Webpage
Project OASIS - Witnesses to the Climate Emergency: Ocean acidification crisis and global warming observations from tropical corals
- 2018-Present: Junior Research Group Leader [Working Group Coral Climatology, ZMT, Bremen, Germany]
- 2017-2018: Postdoctoral Research Associate [Working Group Carbonate Sedimentology, ZMT, Bremen, Germany]
- 2015-2017: L-IPSL LABEX Postdoctoral Research Associate [CNRS-French National Center for Scientific Research, IRD-LOCEAN, LSCE, Paris, France]
- 2013-2014: GLOMAR Postdoctoral Associate [GLOMAR Bremen International Graduate School for Marine Sciences, Bremen, Germany]
- 2010-2013: MARUM Fellow, Institutional Postdoctoral Fellow [MARUM-Center for Marine Environmental Sciences, University of Bremen, Bremen, Germany]
- 2010-2013: Visiting Research Scientist [Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University, Palisades, NY, USA]
- 2010: Ph.D. Atmospheric Science - Climate and Environmental Systems [University at Albany - State University of New York, Albany, NY, USA]
- 2005: M.E.S. Conservation Biology/Resource Management [University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, USA]
- 2004: U.S. National Science Foundation Research Fellow [NSF East Asia and Pacific Summer Institute, National Museum of Marine Biology and Aquarium of Taiwan]
- 2002: Research Laboratory Technician [USC Norris Cancer Center, Los Angeles, CA, USA]
- 2001: B.Sc. Environmental Biology [University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA, USA]
Science Communication - Climate Change
Make Our Planet Great Again - Mid-Term Event - Nov 23 and 24, 2021.
“Assessing, Understanding, Mitigating Global Change”
Here's me in 2019 with the Federal Minister of Education and Research of Germany, Anja Karliczek, and the Minister of Higher Education, Research and Innovation of France, Frédérique Vidal, at the Make Our Planet Great Again Kick-Off Conference.
Alumni Portal Deutschland - Digital Panel Discussion with the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation and the DAAD
Join us online on Nov 10, 2021 for a panel discussion on "The Situation of Our Oceans - Endangered Environments, Threatened Climate"
University of Bremen and the University of Bremen Research Alliance
Spectrum der Wissenschaft - Corals
Click here to read my interview in the most read popular science magazine for German-speaking countries.
Click here for YouTube video presentation on how corals can tell us details on climate of the past.
News and Outreach
Coral carbon sensitivity and growth impact from anthropogenic CO2 increase
Our most recent study that appeared in Nature Communications indicated the breakdown of carbon isotope relationship and coral skeletal growth suggesting a significant perturbation due to excess atmospheric CO2 that is negatively impacting coral calcification as surface ocean pH declines.
Ocean acidification in the South Pacific
Media reported extensively about a recent study that appeared in Nature Communications. In this study, Wu and colleagues present evidence that links tropical South Pacific seawater pH to the pacing of El Niño Southern Oscillation and that ocean pH has recently been decreasing rapidly.
- Frankfurter Rundschau
- Bayerischer Rundfunk
- Der Standard.at
- Unter Wasser Welt
Project OASIS - Make Our Planet Great Again - Franco-German Research Initiative (#MOPGA)
My newest project attempts to shed more light on the problems of increasing atmospheric CO2 and the impacts on our tropical oceans.
Indonesian Throughflow and the South Pacific Convergence Zone
Not all El Niños are the same with impact on the South Pacific Convergence Zone and the Indonesian Throughflow.
Pacific Decadal Oscillation and Climate Change
Media reported about a recent study that appeared in Geophysical Research Letters. In this study, the authors present evidence showing the uptake and release of upper ocean heat content over the past few hundred years in the Pacific with implications on when the so-called 'hiatus' will end with future global warming.
Submitted, Under Review, In Revision, In Prep
- Harbott, M., H.C. Wu, H. Kuhnert, C. Jimenez, P. Gonzales-Diaz, and T. Rixen, (in review, Paleoceanography and Paleoclimatology), A warming southern Gulf of Mexico: Reconstruction of anthropogenic environmental Changes from a Siderastrea siderea coral on the northern coast of Cuba.
- Wu, H.C., D. Blamart, F. Thil, E. Douville, C.E. Lazareth, F. Le Cornec, A. Tribollet, and D. Dissard, (in prep), Highly-resolved δ11B signature and systematics from a massive scleractinian coral's skeletal structure with implications for pH reconstructions.
- Asatryan, G., D. Lazarus, M. Harbott, S. Todorovic, J.O. Kaplan, C.E. Lee, C. Parmesan, J. Renaudie, H. Thomas, H.C. Wu, and C.L. Richards, (In Press, Frontiers for Young Minds - Earth and its Resources), How do plants, animals and microbes interact with climate and respond to climate change?
- Höpker, S.N., H.C. Wu, F. Lucassen, O. Sadio, T. Brochier, I. Nuworkpor, S.A. Kasemann, P. Merschel, and H. Westphal, (2022), Sr isotope ratios (87Sr/86Sr) in water and fish otoliths as estuarine salinity tracers: Case studies from three NW African rivers. Estuaries and Coasts, doi: 10.1007/s12237-021-01041-x.
- Hierl, F., H.C. Wu, and H. Westphal, (2021), Scleractinian corals incorporate microplastic particles: Identification from a laboratory study, Environmental Science and Pollution Research, doi: 10.1007/s11356-021-13240-x.
- Zhao, H., M. Yuan, M. Strokal, H.C. Wu, X. Lu, A. Murk, C. Kroeze, and R. Osinga, (2021), Impacts of nitrogen pollution on corals in the context of global climate change and potential strategies to conserve coral reefs, Science of the Total Environment, doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2021.145017.
- Grottoli, A.G., R.J. Toonen, R. van Woesik, R. Vega Thurber, M.E. Warner, R.H. McLachlan, J.T. Price, K.D. Bahr, I.B. Baums, K. Castillo, M.A. Coffroth, R. Cunning, K. Dobson, M. Donahue, J.L. Hench, R. Iglesias-Prieto, D.W. Kemp, C.D. Kenkel, D.I. Kline, I.B. Kuffner, J.L. Matthews, A. Mayfield, J. Padilla-Gamino, S. Palumbi, C.R. Voolstra, V.M. Weis, and H.C. Wu, (2020), Increasing comparability among coral bleaching experiments. Ecological Applications, doi: 10.1002/eap.2262.
- Höpker, S.N., H.C. Wu, P. Müller, J.-P. Barusseau, R. Vernet, F. Lucassen, S.A. Kasemann, and H. Westphal, (2019), Pronounced Northwest African monsoon discharge during the mid- to late Holocene. Frontiers in Earth Science – Quaternary Science, Geomorphology, and Paleoenvironment, doi: 10.3389/feart.2019.00314.
- Linsley, B.K., R.B. Dunbar, E.P. Dassié, N. Tangri, H.C. Wu, L.D. Brenner, and G.M. Wellington, (2019), AUTHOR CORRECTION: Coral carbon isotope sensitivity to growth rate and water depth with paleo-sea level implications. Nature Communications, doi.org/10.1038/s41467-019-11041-y.
- Linsley, B.K., R.B. Dunbar, E.P. Dassié, N. Tangri, H.C. Wu, L.D. Brenner, and G.M. Wellington, (2019), Coral carbon isotope sensitivity to growth rate and water depth with paleo-sea level implications. Nature Communications, doi: 10.1038/s41467-019-10054-x.
- Wu, H.C., D. Dissard, E. Douville, D. Blamart, L. Bordier, A. Tribollet, F. Le Cornec, E. Pons-Branchu, A. Dapoigny, and C.E. Lazareth (2018), Surface ocean pH variations since 1689 CE and recent ocean acidification in the tropical South Pacific. Nature Communications, doi: 10.1038/s41467-018-04922-1.
- Wu, H.C., T. Felis, D. Scholz, C. Giry, M. Kölling, K.-P. Jochum, and S.R. Scheffers, (2017), Changes to Yucatán Peninsula precipitation associated with salinity and temperature extremes of the Caribbean Sea during the Maya civilization collapse. Scientific Reports, doi: 10.1038/s41598-017-15942-0.
- Wu, H.C., D. Dissard, F. Le Cornec, F. Thil, A. Tribollet, A. Moya, and E. Douville (2017), Primary life stage boron isotope and trace elements incorporation in aposymbiotic Acropora millepora coral under ocean acidification and warming. Frontiers in Marine Science – Coral Reef Research, doi: 10.3389/fmars.2017.00129.
- Dassié, E.P., 36 coauthors, and H.C. Wu (2017), Save our Marine Archives. Eos AGU, doi: 10.1029/2017EO068159.
- Linsley, B.K., H.C. Wu, T. Rixen, C.D. Charles, A.L. Gordon, and M.D. Moore (2017), SPCZ zonal events and downstream influence on surface ocean conditions in the Indonesian Throughflow region. Geophysical Research Letters, doi: 10.1002/2016GL070985.
- Müller, P., M. Taylor, A. Klicpera, H.C. Wu, J. Michel, and H. Westphal, (2015), Food for thought: Mathematical approaches for the conversion of high-resolution sclerochronological oxygen isotope records into sub-annually resolved time series. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, doi: 10.1016/j.palaeo.2015.09.032.
- Linsley, B.K., H.C. Wu, E.P Dassié, and D.P. Schrag, (2015), Decadal changes in South Pacific sea surface temperatures and the relationship to the Pacific Decadal Oscillation and Upper Ocean Heat Content. Geophysical Research Letters, doi: 10.1002/2015GL063045.
- Tierney, J.E., N.J. Abram, K.J. Anchukaitis, M.N. Evans, C. Giry, K.H. Kilbourne, C.P. Saenger, H.C. Wu, and J. Zinke, (2015). Tropical sea-surface temperatures for the past four centuries reconstructed from coral archives. Paleoceanography, doi: 10.1002/2014PA002717.
- Wu, H.C., M. Moreau, B.K. Linsley, D.P. Schrag, and T. Corrège, (2014), Investigation of sea surface temperature changes from replicated coral Sr/Ca variations in the eastern equatorial Pacific (Clipperton Atoll) since 1874. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, doi: 10.1016/j.palaeo.2014.07.039.
- Dassié, E.P., B.K. Linsley, T. Corrège, H.C. Wu, G.M. Lemley, S.S. Howe, and G. Cabioch, (2014), A Fiji multi-coral δ18O composite approach to obtaining a more accurate reconstruction of the last two-century of the ocean-climate variability in the South Pacific Convergence Zone region. Paleoceanography, doi: 10.1002/2013PA002591.
- Wu, H.C., B.K. Linsley, E.P. Dassié, B. Schiraldi, and P.B. deMenocal, (2013), Oceanographic variability in the South Pacific Convergence Zone region over the last 210 years from multi-site coral Sr/Ca records. Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems, 14, doi: 10.1029/2012GC004293.
- Hathorne, E.C., A. Gagnon, T. Felis, J. Adkins, R. Asami, W. Boer, N. Caillon, D. Case, K.M. Cobb, E. Douville, P.B. deMenocal, A. Eisenhauer, C.-D. Garbe-Schönberg, W. Geibert, S. Goldstein, K. Hughen, M. Inoue, H. Kawahata, M. Kölling, F. Le Cornec, B.K. Linsley, H.V. McGregor, P. Montagna, I.S. Nurhati, T.M. Quinn, J. Raddatz, H. Rebaubier, L. Robinson, A. Sadekov, R. Sherrell, D. Sinclair, A.W. Tudhope, G. Wei, H. Wong, H.C. Wu, C.-F. You, (2013), Inter-laboratory study for coral Sr/Ca and other element/Ca ratio measurements. Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems, 14, doi: 10.1002/ggge.20230.
- Wu, H.C. and A.G. Grottoli, (2010), Stable oxygen isotope records of corals and a sclerosponge in the Western Pacific Warm Pool. Coral Reefs, 28, doi: 10.1007/s00338-009-0576-7.