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Monitoring shallow coral reef exposure to environmental stressors using satellite earth observation: the reef environmental stress exposure toolbox (RESET)

Williamson, Michael J; Tebbs, Emma J; Dawson, Terence P; Thompson, Henry J; Head, Catherine E; Jacoby, David MP; (2022) Monitoring shallow coral reef exposure to environmental stressors using satellite earth observation: the reef environmental stress exposure toolbox (RESET). Remote Sensing in Ecology and Conservation , 8 (6) pp. 851-874. 10.1002/rse2.286. Green open access

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Abstract

Coral reefs are significantly threatened by multiple environmental stressors associated with climate change. While there is growing recognition of the importance of interacting stressors on coral reefs, so far this has been primarily limited to in situ studies. Satellite remote sensing has potential for investigating coral reef exposure to multiple environmental stressors at a global scale over multiple years; however, current satellite monitoring is primarily focused on thermal stress. Here we collate nine environmental variables (cloud cover, current, depth, salinity, wind, and four sea surface temperature-based metrics) from readily available satellite datasets using the Google Earth Engine geospatial processing platform. Using ecological and health-based thresholds obtained from the literature, we developed, using fuzzy logic (discontinuous functions), a Reef Environmental Stress Exposure Toolbox (RESET) for monitoring environmental stress exposure at multiple scales. Stress exposure scores for 3157 reefs were generated and mapped globally across 12 coral reef ecosystem regions. RESET was also applied to three case-study reefs, previously well monitored for stress and disturbance using other methods. PCA analysis indicated that depth, current, sea surface temperature (SST) and SST anomaly accounted for the greatest contribution to the variance in environmental stress exposure in these three regions. Depth, degree heating weeks, and SST anomaly were identified as the potential drivers of inter- and intra-region variation in environmental stress exposure. Individual variables were then integrated into a multi-metric index of combined stress exposure which corroborated temporal and spatial differences due to known disturbance events. RESET provides a open access, easily interpretable set of tools and associated indices for monitoring environmental stress exposure on coral reefs, designed to inform conservation and management decisions. As such RESET has broad potential to assist in the monitoring of our increasingly imperilled coral ecosystems, in particular, those that are remote or inaccessible.

Type: Article
Title: Monitoring shallow coral reef exposure to environmental stressors using satellite earth observation: the reef environmental stress exposure toolbox (RESET)
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1002/rse2.286
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1002/rse2.286
Language: English
Additional information: © 2022 The Authors. Remote Sensing in Ecology and Conservation published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of Zoological Society of London. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).
Keywords: Bleaching, coral reef, environmental stress, Google Earth Engine, remote sensing, satellite
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences > Div of Biosciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences > Div of Biosciences > Genetics, Evolution and Environment
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10162325
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