NOAA Coral Reef Watch
Collaborations and Partnerships

Australian Research Council Linkage Grant project

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In 2011, the Australian Research Council (ARC) awarded a five-year Industry Linkage Grant to a consortium led by the University of Queensland (UQ) and NOAA Coral Reef Watch (CRW) for the project, "Next generation satellite tools for understanding change in coral reef ecosystems due to multiple global and local stressors". The project, which again partnered NOAA CRW and UQ with the Australian Institute of Marine Science and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, was designed to enhance our understanding of the combined stresses of temperature and light on corals to cause bleaching, and the impact of other stressors, such as nutrients and ocean acidification. It included the development of an enhanced version (covering the Caribbean and Eastern Pacific) of NOAA CRW's experimental Light Stress Damage satellite product. This product combines light data from geostationary satellites with a sea surface temperature (SST) product derived from a blending of Polar and Geostationary satellite data to track coral photo-efficiency. The Light Stress Damage satellite product can be used as an index of coral health, indicating when corals are stressed, when they are bleaching, and, most importantly, when they have recovered from bleaching. The product also is designed to predict mortality following a mass coral bleaching event. Algorithms underpinning the Light Stress Damage product are based on extensive experiments performed in the Western Caribbean and on the Great Barrier Reef in Australia.

Coral Reef Targeted Research & Capacity Building for Management (CRTR) Program

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Coral Reef Watch is part of the CRTR Remote Sensing Working Group. The CRTR Program is a partnership between the Global Environment Facility, the World Bank, the University of Queensland, NOAA, and approximately 40 other research institutes and third party interests around the world. This program fills key gaps in our understanding of coral reefs, and will put new knowledge and technology into the hands of decision-makers and managers where it can make a difference.


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ReefGIS, the online GIS system from ReefBase, includes monthly data sets derived from Coral Reef Watch operational products. Users can overlay these data with coral reef locations, bleaching reports, disease reports, etc. The interface allows users to zoom in, switch data layers on and off, and save the map for later use.

Coral Reef Watch also partnered with ReefBase to develop a Reporting System for Coral Bleaching, Disease, Mortality, and other Community Composition Changes and Issues on a Coral Reef. This system allows coral reef scientists, managers, divers, and other enthusiasts to report observations of changes on a coral reef, such as coral bleaching or disease, that can affect community composition and/or coral health. The system is intended to assist in a wide variety of management and research activities, which ask many different questions about coral reef ecosystem health and sustainability. It also serves as a long-term record of changes to coral reef ecosystems around the world.

Project AWARE

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The Project AWARE Foundation partners with dive professionals and resource managers to involve volunteer divers and snorkelers in monitoring coral bleaching and assessing coral health. Project AWARE's CoralWatch operators are encouraged to use CRW satellite tools to boost local conservation efforts. NOAA's bleaching alerts help dive operators and volunteers identify when and where to intensify their monitoring efforts as corals are stressed before bleaching is visible.


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ReefTemp produces high-resolution now-casts of heat stress and bleaching risk on the Great Barrier Reef, Australia. These products compare daily 2-km sea surface temperature (SST) data from NOAA satellites to a long-term climatology. Products include SST, SST Anomaly, Degree Heating Days, and Heating Rate. ReefTemp is a collaborative project between NOAA Coral Reef Watch, the Australian Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) Marine and Atmospheric Research Division, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA), and the Australian Bureau of Meteorology (BoM).

Coral Reef Watch is also participating in a new, follow-on effort led by the Australian BoM and GBRMPA called ReefTemp Next Generation (RTNG). Thermal stress products are being derived for the Great Barrier Reef region using an operational multi-platform SST composite at 2-km resolution, produced by the BoM as part of the Australian Integrated Marine Observing System (IMOS). RTNG augments established thermal stress products from ReefTemp with additional metrics and implements new climatologies and management thresholds related to coral bleaching likelihood.

This page highlights some of Coral Reef Watch's key collaborations. Working with partners worldwide helps us build a global network of active data users, helping us learn more about coral bleaching and impacts to coral health from climate change. New and ongoing research collaborations are investigating the next generation of products that monitor coral reef health using remote sensing technology.