Experimental Coral Disease Outbreak Risk Maps

GBR pixel maps
Hawaii pixel maps

NOAA Coral Reef Watch is conducting research and development on a new product that estimates the risk of an outbreak of coral disease. The Coral Disease Outbreak Risk is a regional experimental product, currently serving data for the Great Barrier Reef and the Hawaiian archipelago. The risk is assessed using metrics developed for the coldest and warmest times of year. These are combined to provide a Winter Pre-Conditioning metric, issued at the end of the cold season for each region; and Current Summer Outbreak Risk, that is updated in near real-time during the hot season for each region.

The risk assessments have been calibrated using White Syndrome observations from the Great Barrier Reef (published in PLOS One). While this reflects only one disease group from one region, the product may be useful for broader applications. This new predictive tool will be compared against monitoring data for White Syndrome and with observations of other infectious diseases of corals to determine the applicability of the risk assessment algorithm to various disease types.

NOTE: While this experimental product is tested around the Hawaiian archipelago, we are currently restricting access to the regional imagery to collaborators involved in product evaluation. If you have expertise in coral disease and would like to work with us on this project, please e-mail coralreefwatch@noaa.gov to request access.

CRTR_icon The Disease Outbreak Risk product was developed by NOAA Coral Reef Watch (CRW) in close collaboration with James Cook University; and with support from the Remote Sensing and Coral Disease Working Groups of the Coral Reef Targeted Research (CRTR) Program and the Australian Institute of Marine Science.

CRW also collaborated previously in a parallel research effort that explored links between temperature and coral disease based on the ReefTemp product. Predictions of coral disease outbreak using ReefTemp are modeled for the tropical regions of Australia.

Additionally, CRW has been awarded funding from NASA's Ecological Forecasting Program (Applied Sciences Program), through the University of Hawai'i-Hawai'i Institute of Marine Biology, and again in close collaboration with James Cook University, as part of the multi-year FORE-C project, "Forecasting coral disease outbreaks across the tropical Pacific Ocean using satellite-derived data". The goal of the proposed research is to develop better models of coral disease outbreak risk across the western tropical Pacific Ocean and embed these improved forecasts into the Coral Reef Watch decision support system for coral reef ecosystem management.