Assessing the Environmental Impacts of Desalination on the Arabian Gulf Marine Ecosystem


John Burt, Co-PI

Daniele D'Agostino, Researcher

The Arabian Gulf - the world's hottest sea - as a natural laboratory to understand how coastal and marine organisms cope with and respond to extreme temperatures, information that can provide important insights into how marine ecosystems across the world may respond to looming climate change pressure.  The research team focuses on coral reefs and reef fishes, seagrass beds and mangrove forests, using tools that range from genomics and molecular biology to physiology and behavioral ecology to remote sensing of ecosystem change. 

In an effort to promote environmentally sustainable desalination practices, the project is an experimental study on how hot-salty-hypoxic brines impact the physiology of fish, corals and seagrass, and behavior of fish. To date, this is a nearly unexplored field within the Gulf.

This research peroject also focuses on how hot and salty brines will impact the temperature and salinity of the Gulf and how this will combine with the predicted increases in temperature and salinity due to climate change.  As increasing temperature and salinity will impact desalination efficiency, the project is also investigating the impact of a changing environment on future desalination productivity.