Measuring reef health from space
With compelling evidence that we have lost half of the world’s tropical coral reefs over the last few decades, there is an urgent need to understand their overall health. Without this basic information to use as a baseline, it is near impossible to mount a response to the so-called global reef crisis. The most straightforward method we have for monitoring reefs is conducting SCUBA diver surveys. However, this type of field work is logistically and financially challenging to execute on large scales, so developing a new method to monitor reefs remotely is key.
In attempt to find a solution, Anna Bakker combines the fields of remote sensing, computer science, and ecology to measure reef health from space. Recently, Anna published a paper in Coral Reefs, which utilized the Living Oceans Foundation’s Global Reef Expedition field dataset to build a model that can predict coral cover and other metrics of coral reef health using open-source satellite data.