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Journal of Applied Remote Sensing

Describing coral reef bleaching using very high spatial resolution satellite imagery: experimental methodology
Author(s): Daniel C. Ziskin; Christoph Aubrecht; Christopher D. Elvidge; Ben Tuttle; C. Mark Eakin; Alan E. Strong; Liane S. Guild
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Paper Abstract

This paper proposes an experimental methodology toward describing and quantifying coral reef bleaching using very high spatial resolution optical satellite imagery. Sea surface temperature-based bleaching alerts issued by NOAA's Coral Reef Watch triggered image acquisition and served as an indication for high bleaching probability. Images of suspected coral reef bleaching events and reference images of the same reefs during previous unbleached conditions were coregistered and radiometrically normalized for change detection. An experimental methodology was developed to describe the severity and extent of the bleaching. The methodology hinges on the creation of the Coral Bleaching Index (CBI), constructed from change detected in the green, blue, and red wavelength bands. Results are provided in the form of colorized difference images showing areas of observed bleaching in gold, as well as CBI images, visualizing varying bleaching intensities. Comparison of the CBI with available field validation data yielded a correlation, however additional reference data would be needed for more detailed quality assessment. This technique is seen as a step toward the routine detection and long-term monitoring of coral reef bleaching from space and serves as a proposed tool for detecting bleaching in remote areas where observers cannot be deployed.

Paper Details

Date Published: 1 January 2011
PDF: 17 pages
J. Appl. Remote Sens. 5(1) 053531 doi: 10.1117/1.3595300
Published in: Journal of Applied Remote Sensing Volume 5, Issue 1
Show Author Affiliations
Daniel C. Ziskin, Univ. of Colorado at Boulder (United States)
Christoph Aubrecht, Austrian Institute of Technology (Austria)
Christopher D. Elvidge, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (United States)
Ben Tuttle, Univ. of Colorado at Boulder (United States)
C. Mark Eakin, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (United States)
Alan E. Strong, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (United States)
Liane S. Guild, NASA Ames Research Ctr. (United States)


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