Reporting 2014-16 Coral Bleaching Observations to NOAA Coral Reef Watch

NOAA Coral Reef Watch (CRW) is undertaking an effort to determine the severity and distribution of recent coral bleaching and mortality, and compare these with satellite measurements of bleaching thermal stress.

Global scale bleaching events have occurred frequently in recent years. More and more coral reef areas have experienced severe bleaching, sometimes in back-to-back events. For instance, elevated ocean temperatures in 2010 resulted in a major coral bleaching event in many parts of the world. In 2014, record thermal stress and bleaching were observed in the Northern Mariana Islands (for the second year in a row), the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, the main Hawaiian Islands, and the Marshall Islands. A widespread 2015-2016 global bleaching event continues to be likely, as the British Indian Ocean Territory and the Maldives are already (June-July 2015) experiencing bleaching, and warming has begun in the Caribbean. Hopefully this event will not be as severe as the 2010 or 1998 bleaching events; however, some locations may suffer worse bleaching this year/next year than in the past.

This bleaching event provides an opportunity for comparison of bleaching observations from the field with the new CRW 5-km satellite coral bleaching thermal stress product suite, released in May 2014. The new satellite products offer higher spatial (5 km) and temporal (daily) resolutions, and presently include sea surface temperature (SST), SST Anomaly, Coral Bleaching HotSpot, Degree Heating Week, and a 7-Day Maximum Bleaching Alert Area.

At this time, we are collecting information on coral bleaching from 2014 onwards for comparison with satellite data. (Click here for a copy of the email CRW sent to field partners around the world requesting their recent bleaching data.) If you wish to contribute bleaching observation data (including reports of 'no bleaching') to our effort, please complete BOTH the qualitative and quantitative bleaching report forms below, and email them to Observations of both bleaching and no bleaching on your coral reefs are very important for the calibration/validation of CRW's satellite products.

NOAA Coral Reef Watch Bleaching Observation Forms:

Quantitative Questionnaire (Excel spreadsheet, 223kb, Revised Sep 14, 2015)

Qualitative Questionnaire (Microsoft Word document, 435kb, Revised Jul 30, 2015)

For additional information about the Top 10 Things Resource Managers and Other Coral Reef Stakeholders Can Do Before, During, and After a Bleaching Event, please visit: