Australian researchers have found Envisats MERIS sensor can detect coral bleaching down to ten metres deep. This means Envisat could potentially monitor impacted coral reefs worldwide on a twice-weekly basis.
Coral bleaching happens when symbiotic algae living in symbiosis with living coral polyps (and providing them their distinctive colours) are expelled. The whitening coral may die with subsequent impacts on the reef ecosystem, and thus fisheries, regional tourism and coastal protection. Coral bleaching is linked to sea temperatures above normal summer maxima and to solar radiation. Bleaching may take place on localised and mass scales – there was an extensive bleaching event in 1998 and 2002 likely linked to El Niño events.
"An increase in frequency of coral bleaching may be one of the first tangible environmental effects of global warming," states Dr. Arnold Dekker of Australias Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation’s (CSIRO) Wealth from Oceans Flagship program."The concern is that coral reefs might pass a critical bleaching threshold beyond which they are unable to regenerate."
Mariangela D’Acunto | EurekAlert!
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