Health of Coral Reefs detected from Orbit

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Australian researchers have found Envisat’s MERIS sensor can detect coral bleaching down to ten metres deep. This means Envisat could potentially monitor impacted coral reefs worldwide on a twice-weekly basis.

Coral bleaching happens when symbiotic algae living in symbiosis with living coral polyps (and providing them their distinctive colours) are expelled. The whitening coral may die with subsequent impacts on the reef ecosystem, and thus fisheries, regional tourism and coastal protection. Coral bleaching is linked to sea temperatures above normal summer maxima and to solar radiation. Bleaching may take place on localised and mass scales