The NOAA Coral Reef Watch program uses satellite data to provide current reef environmental conditions to quickly identify areas at risk for coral bleaching. Bleaching is the process by which corals lose the symbiotic algae that give them their distinctive colors. If a coral is severely bleached, disease and death become likely.
Coral Reef Watch also offers a modeled Outlook that predicts the likelihood of coral bleaching heat stress on a week-by-week basis, up to four months in the future (the typical length of a bleaching season).
Continuous satellite monitoring of sea surface temperature at global scales and modeled predictions of approaching bleaching-level heat stress provide resource managers, scientific researchers, and other coral reef ecosystem 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 and communication with the public.
Coral Reef Watch is part of the NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Program and the National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service. 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 suites are a key component of NOAA's monitoring efforts for coral reef ecosystems, including the Coral Reef Conservation Program's National Coral Reef Monitoring Program.