Riled Up/Riled Up Archive/Article
Author: Hugh Bollinger/Tuesday, March 21, 2017/Categories: natural history, wildlife conservation, space science, marine life, sustainability, environment, climate change
Ocean Heat Stress Map for Australia, Feb. 21-27-1017 (credit: Coral Reef Watch/NOAA)
We have been following the disasterous consequences of heat stress on the Great Barrier Reef in previous posts. Much of the environmental monitoring and measurements of coral bleaching has been conducted by the Australian Institute of Marine Sciences (AIMS). Coral bleaching occurs when the natural symbiosis between a coral polyp (an animal) and an algae (single-cell plant) is compromised by high water temperatures. The heat forces the coral to expell the algae, it turns white, and they are left vulnerable to disease and death. NASA and NOAA have now contributed a global map of Australia showing the heat-stress in the oceans surrounding the island continent in February, summer in the southern hemisphere.
According to NASA, the map is color coded where: tan indicates a coral bleaching watch; orange indicates a bleaching warning; red indicates a bleaching alert; and dark-red indicates a high alert where coral death is likely.
NOAA investigators who analyzed satellite date from the Coral Reef Watch program said:
"The reef appears small on the map but providing data only over reefs excludes the bigger picture. Heat conditions in the surrounding ocean waters is very informative when trying to understand what is and may soon be happening on reefs."
The latest bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef was a lead article in Nature Magazine and details of the findings are here.
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