NASA Helps Monitor Bleaching of Great Barrier Reef
- NASA Helps Monitor Bleaching of Great Barrier Reef
US: April 6, 2006
WASHINGTON - NASA satellites that monitor ocean color and temperature
have joined a global effort to study the worrisome bleaching of coral in
Australia's Great Barrier Reef, the US space agency said on Wednesday.
Coral reefs get bleached when water is too warm, which forces out tiny
algae that live in the coral and help it to thrive and give it its vivid
color, NASA said in a statement. Without these algae, coral can whiten
and eventually die.
"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 NASA's
Goddard Space Flight Center outside Washington.
NASA's Terra and Aqua satellites offer data about ocean surface
temperature and color, available online within three hours of the
satellites' pass. Color is linked to the concentration of chlorophyll in
ocean plants, and shows changes in the ocean's biological productivity.
Researcher Scarla Weeks at the University of Queensland, Australia, use
the satellite data to observe changes in sea surface temperatures and
ocean primary productivity along the Great Barrier Reef and surrounding
"The Great Barrier Reef is an icon, and we just want to know what we can
do to save it," said Weeks in the statement. "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
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