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Remote Sens. 2016, 8(1), 59; doi:10.3390/rs8010059

Validation of Reef-Scale Thermal Stress Satellite Products for Coral Bleaching Monitoring

1
Coral Reef Watch, U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, College Park, MD 20740, USA
2
Global Science and Technology, Inc., Greenbelt, MD 20770, USA
3
Marine Geophysical Laboratory, Physics Department, College of Science, Technology and Engineering, James Cook University, Townsville, QLD 4811, Australia
4
CNMI Bureau of Environmental and Coastal Quality, Division of Coastal Resources Management, Saipan, MP 96950, USA
5
SymbioSeas and Marine Applied Research Center, Wilmington, NC 28411, USA
6
Laboratoire d’Excellence «CORAIL» USR 3278 CNRS—EPHE, CRIOBE, Papetoai, Moorea 98729, French Polynesia
7
School of Biological Sciences, University of Queensland, Brisbane, QLD 4072, Australia
8
Remote Sensing Research Centre, School of Geography, Planning and Environmental Management, University of Queensland, Brisbane, QLD 4072, Australia
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Stuart Phinn, Chris Roelfsema, Richard Gloaguen and Prasad Thenkabail
Received: 15 September 2015 / Revised: 17 December 2015 / Accepted: 21 December 2015 / Published: 12 January 2016
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Remote Sensing for Coral Reef Monitoring)
View Full-Text   |   Download PDF [2142 KB, uploaded 12 January 2016]   |  

Abstract

Satellite monitoring of thermal stress on coral reefs has become an essential component of reef management practice around the world. A recent development by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Coral Reef Watch (NOAA CRW) program provides daily global monitoring at 5 km resolution—at or near the scale of most coral reefs. In this paper, we introduce two new monitoring products in the CRW Decision Support System for coral reef management: Regional Virtual Stations, a regional synthesis of thermal stress conditions, and Seven-day Sea Surface Temperature (SST) Trend, describing recent changes in temperature at each location. We describe how these products provided information in support of management activities prior to, during and after the 2014 thermal stress event in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI). Using in situ survey data from this event, we undertake the first quantitative comparison between 5 km satellite monitoring products and coral bleaching observations. Analysis of coral community characteristics, historical temperature conditions and thermal stress revealed a strong influence of coral biodiversity in the patterns of observed bleaching. This resulted in a model based on thermal stress and generic richness that explained 97% of the variance in observed bleaching. These findings illustrate the importance of using local benthic characteristics to interpret the level of impact from thermal stress exposure. In an era of continuing climate change, accurate monitoring of thermal stress and prediction of coral bleaching are essential for stakeholders to direct resources to the most effective management actions to conserve coral reefs. View Full-Text
Keywords: coral reef; coral bleaching; sea surface temperature; SST; satellite; thermal stress; NOAA Coral Reef Watch; Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands; CNMI; coastal and marine management; coral diversity coral reef; coral bleaching; sea surface temperature; SST; satellite; thermal stress; NOAA Coral Reef Watch; Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands; CNMI; coastal and marine management; coral diversity
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Heron, S.F.; Johnston, L.; Liu, G.; Geiger, E.F.; Maynard, J.A.; De La Cour, J.L.; Johnson, S.; Okano, R.; Benavente, D.; Burgess, T.F.R.; Iguel, J.; Perez, D.I.; Skirving, W.J.; Strong, A.E.; Tirak, K.; Eakin, C.M. Validation of Reef-Scale Thermal Stress Satellite Products for Coral Bleaching Monitoring. Remote Sens. 2016, 8, 59.

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