NOAA Coral Reef Watch
5km Satellite Products Tutorial

(released September 14, 2020)

Satellites & Bleaching


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Welcome    |    About Coral Reef Watch

The purpose of this tutorial is to introduce users to a suite of next-generation satellite-based tools that serve the U.S. and international coral reef communities. They are heavily used to pinpoint and monitor areas around the world where corals are at risk for bleaching. These daily global 5km-resolution satellite coral bleaching heat stress monitoring products, which are produced from a blend of geostationary and polar-orbiting environmental satellite data, are the core near real-time decision support products that NOAA Coral Reef Watch offers for coral reef management.

The Coral Reef Watch (CRW) program, part of the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), assesses bleaching risk using satellite, modeled, and in situ environmental data. Since this tutorial focuses only on satellite monitoring of the conditions that cause coral bleaching, we first provide background on coral reefs, coral bleaching and satellite remote sensing. We then introduce some of the main tools that CRW produces from NOAA's 5km satellite data (as of September 2020). These include: Sea Surface Temperature (SST), SST Anomaly, Coral Bleaching HotSpot, Degree Heating Week (DHW), Bleaching Alert Area, and SST Trend. We also briefly touch on the Composites and Animations that CRW produces of the daily global 5km satellite products, as well as CRW's Regional Virtual Stations and automated Satellite Bleaching Alert (SBA) Email System.

As you learn about NOAA CRW's daily global 5km satellite coral bleaching heat stress monitoring products, we hope you will gain the skills needed to access and use satellite data and information about where coral bleaching is happening around the world.

We have tried to make this tutorial instructive for the public, especially students and teachers, who want to learn more about coral reefs and satellite remote sensing technology. Multiple of the tutorial lessons address the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) for use in the classroom.

The tutorial is content rich and presented in easy-to-understand language. In addition to this initial Introduction, the tutorial is made up of 15 chapters (or sections), plus References, Online Resources, and Education Standards pages. The chapters (sections) can be read in sequence by clicking on the arrows at the top or bottom of each page. The tutorial includes a number of illustrative and interactive graphics to enhance the text.

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