NOAA Coral Reef Watch
Coral Bleaching Thermal Stress Outlook
(Experimental product)

Introduction

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bleached coral

Bleached coral colonies. Photo by Ray Berkelmans.

Mass bleaching of coral reefs has become a critical problem affecting the health of one of the most diverse coastal ecosystems in the oceans. Although NOAA Coral Reef Watch (CRW) already provides critical, timely information to coral reef managers and scientists based on near real-time satellite monitoring of thermal stress conducive to coral bleaching, an outlook of thermal stress during future months would be very useful for strategic planning and management. An experimental seasonal coral bleaching thermal stress outlook product has been developed by NOAA to provide such an outlook ranging from one week to four months (season) in advance. NOAA CRW and the Physical Sciences Division of the NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory (ESRL) have teamed up in this effort.

The Version 1 outlook product was launched on July 1, 2008. An improved version of the outlook product (Version 2) was launched and replaced Version 1 on August 10, 2010.

On the following pages, the background of the bleaching outlook product will be introduced briefly first. Sample outlook maps will then be presented along with a demonstration of the retrospective bleaching outlook product for the record-breaking 2005 Caribbean mass bleaching event.


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