Monitoring and Assessment News

NOAA Coral Reef Watch Releases 2 new products

New 5-km Coral Bleaching Products – Higher spatial resolution is the improvement to NOAA Coral Reef Watch remote-sensing products most requested by coral reef ecosystem scientists and resource managers. NOAA Coral Reef Watch and its partners have developed a new experimental daily global 5 km coral bleaching thermal stress monitoring product suite, now available on the Coral Reef Watch web site:

The new 5 km coral bleaching product suite is based on NOAA’s next-generation operational daily global 5 km sea surface temperature (SST) analysis, derived from a blend of geostationary and polar-orbiting satellite observations. Significant advances in satellite SST algorithms ensure dramatic improvements over Coral Reef Watch’s current twice-weekly 50 km SST operational coral reef environment monitoring products. Coral Reef Watch’s next-generation 5 km global coral bleaching thermal stress monitoring product suite (which consists of SST, SST Anomaly, Coral Bleaching HotSpots, Degree Heating Weeks (DHW), and Bleaching Alert Area products) is updated daily, has 100 times finer resolution, and uses 10 to 50 times more satellite observations than the current 50 km operational product suite. The next-generation 5 km product suite can, therefore, provide near coral reef-scale temperature at high data densities to help managers track climate change impacts on coral reef environments.

New Seasonal Coral Bleaching Forecast System – NOAA Coral Reef Watch has also just released on its website a new experimental seasonal bleaching forecast system that predicts the probability of thermal stress events capable of causing large-scale, mass coral bleaching. The new Seasonal Coral Bleaching Thermal Stress Outlook ( uses a weekly, 28-member ensemble of sea surface temperature (SST) forecasts from NOAA National Centers for Environmental Prediction’s (NCEP) operational, dynamical Climate Forecast System Version 1 ( to predict the probability of coral bleaching up to four months in the future (typical bleaching season). NOAA Coral Reef Watch’s first Seasonal Coral Bleaching Thermal Stress Outlook product (, released to the public in July 2008, was built from SST forecasts from an experimental, statistical Linear Inverse Modeling (LIM) system, developed in conjunction with the NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory (ESRL). While the LIM-based Outlook will continue to serve the coral reef communities, it will do so now alongside the more advanced CFS-based Outlook.

The new CFS-based Outlook product significantly enhances NOAA Coral Reef Watch’s capability for predicting the likelihood of coral bleaching up to four months in the future. Currently, Coral Reef Watch provides the CFS-based Seasonal Outlooks at probabilities of 90% and 60%, thereby identifying the lowest thermal stress levels that 90% and 60% of the 28 members predict, respectively. Coral Reef Watch also provides percentages of the 28 ensemble members reaching each of the four coral bleaching thermal stress levels (Bleaching Watch & Higher, Bleaching Warning & Higher, Alert Level 1 & Higher, and Alert Level 2). The corresponding weekly outlooks that the Seasonal Outlook is derived from are also provided to give potential thermal stress conditions on a weekly time scale. Work is underway to transition the new CFS-based Seasonal Bleaching Outlook product to utilize the newly available Version 2 of the CFS (CFSv2). That transition is expected to be complete at the end of 2012.

Your feedback is important for NOAA Coral Reef Watch to improve our products. Please send your comments and suggestions to [email protected]

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