Research Papers

Describing coral reef bleaching using very high spatial resolution satellite imagery: experimental methodology

[+] Author Affiliations
Daniel Ziskin

University of Colorado, Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, 216 UCB, Boulder, Colorado 80309 Daniel.Ziskin@noaa.gov

Christoph Aubrecht

AIT Austrian Institute of Technology, Donau-City-Strasse 1, A-1220 Vienna, Austria

Chris Elvidge

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Geophysical Data Center, 325 Broadway, Boulder, Colorado 80305

Ben Tuttle

University of Colorado, Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, 216 UCB, Boulder, Colorado 80309 Daniel.Ziskin@noaa.gov

C. Mark Eakin, Alan E. Strong

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Coral Reef Watch NOAA/E/RA31, SSMC1, 1335 East West Hwy, Silver Spring, Maryland 20910

Liane S. Guild

NASA Ames Research Center, Earth Sciences Division Mail Stop 242-4, Moffett Field, California 94035

J. Appl. Remote Sens. 5(1), 053531 (June 20, 2011). doi:10.1117/1.3595300
History: Received November 17, 2010; Revised March 23, 2011; Accepted May 04, 2011; Published June 20, 2011; Online June 20, 2011
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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.

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© 2011 Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE)

Citation

Daniel Ziskin ; Christoph Aubrecht ; Chris Elvidge ; Ben Tuttle ; C. Mark Eakin, et al.
"Describing coral reef bleaching using very high spatial resolution satellite imagery: experimental methodology", J. Appl. Remote Sens. 5(1), 053531 (June 20, 2011). ; http://dx.doi.org/10.1117/1.3595300


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