NOAA Coral Reef Watch (CRW) utilizes remote sensing, in situ, and modeled data to develop and operate a
decision support system (DSS) to help reef managers (our target audience) and other stakeholders around the world prepare for and respond to coral reef ecosystem stressors related to climate change.
We monitor coral reef environmental conditions that cause bleaching, disease, and death; deliver information and early warnings in near-real-time to managers, scientists, and other stakeholders; and use operational climate forecasts to provide outlooks of stressful reef environmental conditions. NOAA CRW focuses on climate change impacts on reef ecosystems and develops, expands, and refines products from satellites, forecasts, models, and in situ data for targeted reef locations worldwide. CRW products are primarily sea surface temperature (SST)-based but also incorporate light, wind, carbonate chemistry, and ocean color.
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Coral reefs are one of the most diverse ecosystems in the world. Reefs support
essential coastal fisheries, protect coasts from erosion, support local
tourism and are sources of pharmaceuticals. Sustained high water temperatures,
in conjunction with other natural and human-based stressors, may cause coral
bleaching to become an annual event in most oceans. This could lead to a rapid
decline in the health of coral ecosystems worldwide.
Corals are very sensitive to stress caused by elevated water temperatures, bright sunny days, and calm water. Corals respond to stressful temperatures by expelling the symbiotic algae (zooxanthellae) that live within their tissues and provide most of their food and characteristic color. While corals can recover from short-term, minor stress, they can starve and die if the stressful conditions continue for weeks or months. Coral bleaching has become much more severe in recent decades as sea temperatures have risen.
Coral Reef Watch trifold brochure
Our Decision Support System (DSS) for Coral Reef Managers
Applying our DSS to Coral Reef Management
NOAA's response to the 2005 Caribbean bleaching event
Coral Reef Watch is part of a larger effort at NOAA to understand and protect coral reefs. For more information on NOAA's coral reef activities, please email Coral Reef Watch directly, or visit the Coral Reef Conservation Program website. You can also fax your question to: 301-713-4012, or mail it to:
Attn: Outreach and Education
NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Program, N/OCRM
1305 East West Highway, 10th Floor
Silver Spring, MD 20910-3281
NOAA's National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service
NOAA's National Ocean Service