Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

NASA Helps Researchers Diagnose Recent Coral Bleaching at Great Barrier Reef

07.04.2006


The image shows healthy coral in full color at the Great Barrier Reef. Credit: ReefHQ


An international team of scientists are working at a rapid pace to study environmental conditions behind the fast-acting and widespread coral bleaching currently plaguing Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. NASA’s satellite data supply scientists with near-real-time sea surface temperature and ocean color data to give them faster than ever insight into the impact coral bleaching can have on global ecology.

Australia’s Great Barrier Reef is a massive marine habitat system made up of 2,900 reefs spanning over 600 continental islands. Though coral reefs exist around the globe, researchers actually consider this network of reefs to be the center of the world’s marine biodiversity, playing a critical role in human welfare, climate, and economics. Coral reefs are a multi-million dollar recreational destinations, and the Great Barrier Reef is an important part of Australia’s economy.

Scientists use ocean temperatures and ocean "color" as indicators of what is happening with coral. Coral is very temperature sensitive. Ocean "color," or the concentration of chlorophyll in ocean plants, is important because it informs scientists about changes in the ocean’s biological productivity. NASA satellites capture both temperature and color data from their space-based view of the coral reefs.

Bleaching occurs when warmer than tolerable temperatures force corals to cast out the tiny algae that help the coral thrive and give them their color. Without these algae, the corals turn white and eventually die, if the condition persists for too long.



"Australia’s Great Barrier Reef is the largest and most complex system of reefs in the world, and like so many of the coral reefs in the world’s oceans, it’s in trouble," said oceanographer Gene Carl Feldman of the Ocean Biology Processing Group at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.

He added, "Coral, which can only live within a very narrow range of environmental conditions, are extremely sensitive to small shifts in the environment. Like the ’canary in the coalmine,’ coral can provide an early warning of potentially dangerous things to come."

In 2004, NASA scientists developed a free, Internet-based data distribution system that enables researchers around the globe to customize requests and receive ocean color data and sea surface temperature data captured by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) instrument aboard NASA’s Terra and Aqua satellites, generally within three hours after the satellites pass over the particular region of interest. NASA processes and distributes this data to hundreds of scientists, educators and public officials globally on a daily basis.

Researchers, including Scarla Weeks at the University of Queensland, Australia, are using satellite monitoring to observe changes in sea surface temperatures and ocean primary productivity along the Great Barrier Reef and surrounding waters. Recent dramatic increases in sea surface temperatures are causing a rift in the relationship between corals and the algae that live within their bodies.

"The Great Barrier Reef is an icon, and we just want to know what we can do to save it," said Weeks. "Sea surface temperatures over the last five months are actually higher in certain locations now than they were in 2002 when we witnessed the worst bleaching incident to date."

Weeks regularly downloads NASA MODIS data that shows her the extent of and where the coral bleaching is expanding. "We’re not able to do this kind of broad-reaching work without NASA. With this satellite data delivery service, we’re able to observe what’s happening in the ocean in ways we’ve never been able to before," she said.

According to Weeks, not only does the increased sea surface temperature affect life underneath the water, but it also impacts other marine creatures like sea birds. "After the high sea surface temperatures in 2002 caused the unprecedented bleaching incident, we saw a devastating reproductive failure in sea birds. The adult birds ultimately abandoned their nests resulting in a population loss in an animal vital to the marine ecosystem.

"Rising ocean temperatures are just one of the ever-increasing number of environmental stresses faced by coral reefs in general and the Great Barrier Reef in particular," said Feldman. "With this distribution service, we’re sharing NASA’s unique ability to monitor our home planet from the vantage point of space and to provide scientists with the best and most timely information to carry out their research."

Rob Gutro | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.nasa.gov/centers/goddard/news/topstory/2006/coral_bleach.html
http://www.nasa.gov

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Dispersal of Fish Eggs by Water Birds – Just a Myth?
19.02.2018 | Universität Basel

nachricht Removing fossil fuel subsidies will not reduce CO2 emissions as much as hoped
08.02.2018 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Explanation for puzzling quantum oscillations has been found

So-called quantum many-body scars allow quantum systems to stay out of equilibrium much longer, explaining experiment | Study published in Nature Physics

Recently, researchers from Harvard and MIT succeeded in trapping a record 53 atoms and individually controlling their quantum state, realizing what is called a...

Im Focus: Dozens of binaries from Milky Way's globular clusters could be detectable by LISA

Next-generation gravitational wave detector in space will complement LIGO on Earth

The historic first detection of gravitational waves from colliding black holes far outside our galaxy opened a new window to understanding the universe. A...

Im Focus: Entangled atoms shine in unison

A team led by Austrian experimental physicist Rainer Blatt has succeeded in characterizing the quantum entanglement of two spatially separated atoms by observing their light emission. This fundamental demonstration could lead to the development of highly sensitive optical gradiometers for the precise measurement of the gravitational field or the earth's magnetic field.

The age of quantum technology has long been heralded. Decades of research into the quantum world have led to the development of methods that make it possible...

Im Focus: Computer-Designed Customized Regenerative Heart Valves

Cardiovascular tissue engineering aims to treat heart disease with prostheses that grow and regenerate. Now, researchers from the University of Zurich, the Technical University Eindhoven and the Charité Berlin have successfully implanted regenerative heart valves, designed with the aid of computer simulations, into sheep for the first time.

Producing living tissue or organs based on human cells is one of the main research fields in regenerative medicine. Tissue engineering, which involves growing...

Im Focus: Light-induced superconductivity under high pressure

A team of scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg investigated optically-induced superconductivity in the alkali-doped fulleride K3C60under high external pressures. This study allowed, on one hand, to uniquely assess the nature of the transient state as a superconducting phase. In addition, it unveiled the possibility to induce superconductivity in K3C60 at temperatures far above the -170 degrees Celsius hypothesized previously, and rather all the way to room temperature. The paper by Cantaluppi et al has been published in Nature Physics.

Unlike ordinary metals, superconductors have the unique capability of transporting electrical currents without any loss. Nowadays, their technological...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Save the date: Forum European Neuroscience – 07-11 July 2018 in Berlin, Germany

02.05.2018 | Event News

Invitation to the upcoming "Current Topics in Bioinformatics: Big Data in Genomics and Medicine"

13.04.2018 | Event News

Unique scope of UV LED technologies and applications presented in Berlin: ICULTA-2018

12.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Supersonic waves may help electronics beat the heat

18.05.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Keeping a Close Eye on Ice Loss

18.05.2018 | Information Technology

CrowdWater: An App for Flood Research

18.05.2018 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>