NOAA Coral Reef Watch (CRW)’s operational daily global 5km satellite coral bleaching heat stress products are being used by Arizona State University (ASU) and its partners to create a new Bleaching layer (currently in beta status) in the Allen Coral Atlas. The Bleaching layer, which is updated every two weeks, detects variations in coral reef brightness using high-resolution Planet Dove satellite visible-band imagery and an advanced algorithm, to indicate whether reefs are experiencing heat stress, such as that from marine heatwaves, and bleaching.
The ASU-led team uses CRW’s daily global 5km satellite sea surface temperature (SST) Anomaly product data to establish a baseline of “no stress” bleaching periods and compares these with bi-weekly satellite imagery. They also consult CRW’s daily 5km satellite Regional Virtual Stations data every two weeks to see which regions around the world are at a bleaching level of “Warning” or higher, for further processing. The ASU team hopes coral reef stakeholders will begin using the new Allen Coral Atlas Bleaching layer to determine, bi-weekly, where corals are bleaching, to identify where to scale-up conservation and restoration efforts and for comparing changes in reef ecosystems from one year to the next.
The NOAA CRW program is an initiative supported by the Earth System Science Interdisciplinary Center (ESSIC)-administered Cooperative Institute for Satellite Earth System Studies (CISESS). ESSIC/CISESS Scientists include Associate Research Scientist Dr. Gang Liu; Senior Faculty Specialist Jacqueline De La Cour; and Faculty Specialist Erick Geiger. The team also includes ESSIC/CISESS subawardees, Drs. William Skirving and Blake Spady, at ReefSense in Townsville, Australia.