NOAA's Coral Reef Watch Program's satellite data provide current reef environmental conditions to quickly identify areas at risk for coral bleaching, where corals lose the symbiotic algae that give them their distinctive colors. If a coral is severely bleached, disease and partial mortality become likely, and the entire colony may die.
Continuous monitoring of sea surface temperature at global scales provides researchers and stakeholders with tools to understand and better manage the complex interactions leading to coral bleaching. When bleaching conditions occur, these tools can be used to trigger bleaching response plans and support appropriate management decisions.
Coral Reef Watch is part of the NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Program (CRCP) and the National Environmental Satellite Data and Information Service (NESDIS). A brief history of Coral Reef Watch's early years is featured in "NOAA Celebrates 200 Years of Science, Service, and Stewardship."
Our satellite product suite is a key aspect to NOAA's monitoring system for coral reef ecosystems, the Coral Reef Ecosystem Integrated Observing System (CREIOS).