University of Sydney geoscientists have developed a new technique capable of measuring coral reefs’ health using satellites.
The new method involves looking at the sand aprons, which are deposits along a lagoon’s shore. These can give a very good indicator of the reef’s health, how the corals are growing and the carbonate sediment productivity rate.
The researchers found that the aprons give a great estimate and way to measure and estimate carbonate productivity over time. These data points are crucial to establishing a reef’s health.
According to the study lead, Associate Professor Ana Vila-Concejo:
“The traditional way of collecting such data is very work intensive. It requires actively measuring the chemistry of water or taking thousands upon thousands of photos to calculate how much each creature in the ecosystem is contributing to carbonate sediment productivity. Our results suggest that ecosystem health was much better then, so we’re likely seeing the effects of climate change in our present-day data.”
“The formation of sand aprons by lagoon infilling is a function of reef size, and a self-limiting process controlled by the surrounding hydrodynamics and in response to the ebb and flow of sea-level changes. If we can understand the evolution of sand aprons in each reef over time, we can use the data to manage coral reefs and prepare for climate change.”
You can check out the original study here.