Researchers use Google to measure local weather change impression on coral reefs – Oceanographic

New analysis maps out multi-layer local weather change impacts on coral reefs, utilizing freely accessible Google satellite tv for pc expertise.

A crew of researchers led by ZSL (Zoological Society London) have used satellite tv for pc expertise to observe a few of the world’s most distant and weak coral reefs, and for the primary time, observe a number of local weather change associated stressors from information freely accessible via Google Earth Engine. 


With local weather change creating a posh mixture of detrimental impacts on these treasured ecosystems via rising sea floor temperatures, stronger wind and modifications in water depth, present and cloud cowl, it’s key for conservation scientists to take the mixed results under consideration when making an attempt to guage and defend coral reefs. 

Satellite tv for pc information has lengthy been used to observe floor temperatures of a few of the world’s most distant and arduous to achieve marine habitats, however as revealed in a new study revealed this week in Distant Sensing in Ecology and Conservation, conservationists have gone one step additional, utilizing Google Earth Engine expertise to analyze how altering environmental components mix to impression shallow reefs in several methods. 

The crew created a Reef Environmental Stress Publicity Toolbox (RESET) from the available Google Earth Engine geospatial processing platform. Utilizing the various satellite tv for pc information, they had been in a position to map out harmful mixtures of environmental stressors brought on by local weather change and monitor the reefs all year-round. 

They used information from 3,157 coral reef areas across the globe, together with 12 main ocean ecosystem areas. These embody the Chagos Archipelago, coral reefs off the coast of the Gilbert Islands within the South Pacific and within the Crimson Sea. To check the capabilities of RESET, occurrences of El Niño – a phenomenon of bizarre ocean warming- had been chosen as time durations throughout preliminary trials, to have a look at the toolkit’s capability to seize variability throughout these traumatic climatic occasions, that are well-known for inflicting injury to reefs corresponding to coral bleaching. 


Utilizing RESET to have a look at the ‘environmental stress exposure’ to coral reefs at instances when El Niño occurred in comparison with ‘usual’ circumstances the examine discovered that a number of components, corresponding to present, depth and metrics of sea floor temperature, mix to exacerbate stress throughout El Niño durations. As well as, the examine discovered that the drivers of environmental stress on shallow reefs will be area and placement particular, with totally different variables having larger impacts in some areas in comparison with others.  

Coral reefs are essential marine ecosystems, house to an abundance of flora and animal life however they’re all particular person with traits that rely upon their location and affect vulnerability to local weather change. The brand new toolkit can be utilized to analyze environmental stressors of shallow coral reefs, from native to world scales, and it’s hoped that it’s going to additionally kind a blueprint for necessary future investigations into direct human impacts on coral reefs corresponding to overfishing, air pollution and synthetic gentle. 


ZSL Put up-Doctoral Analysis Affiliate and lead creator on the paper, Michael Williamson stated: “The continued decline and degradation of the world’s coral reefs means that accurately monitoring and managing these valuable ecosystems, especially in remote locations, is vital.” 

Free and accessible to anybody within the expertise, the crew imagine that Google Earth Engine information may develop into a vital and cheap piece of package for conservation scientists, NGOs and even college youngsters with an curiosity within the pure world. 


Williamson added: “Using Google Earth Engine Technology, rather than just looking at sea surface temperature, we have devised a method to explore the impacts of multiple and combined stressors which are known to be impacting reefs. This method can be easily replicated to consider direct human impacts on reefs, and we plan to take this work forward as part of our research here at ZSL.” 

Co-author and Lecturer in Bodily Geography and Earth Remark on the Division of Geography, King’s School London, Emma Tebbs stated: “Climate change is having profound impacts on the marine environment, altering not just sea surface temperature, but also other variables such as ocean currents, salinity and wind. Satellites can now be used measure many of these variables from space. The toolbox we have created integrates multiple satellite datasets, allowing users to evaluate the environmental stress exposure of critical marine ecosystems such as coral reefs.” 

For extra from our Ocean Newsroom, click here.
Images courtesy of ZSL, Dan Bayley and Margaux Steyaert.

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