Monitoring and Assessment News

NOAA Coral Reef Watch Revises Heat Stress Category System

Photo Credit: Ocean Image Bank // Kimberly Jeffries

In response to the unprecedented levels of coral bleaching heat stress witnessed in recent years, NOAA Coral Reef Watch has implemented a comprehensive revision to its coral bleaching heat stress category system. The revised system introduces additional Bleaching Alert Levels, refining the original framework that only included Levels 1 and 2. This significant development is aimed at providing more insights into extreme heat stress events, as observed globally through the daily 5km-resolution satellite coral Bleaching Alert Area product (Version 3.1).

The new Bleaching Alert Levels 3-5 provide important, added detail, for when the magnitude of extreme heat stress exceeds the threshold of Bleaching Alert Level 2 conditions.  Please refer to NOAA Coral Reef Watch Daily 5km Satellite Coral Bleaching Heat Stress Bleaching Alert Area Product (Version 3.1) for information on the possible ecological ramifications of these new alert levels.

Coral reef stakeholders around the world, including those involved in coral bleaching response plans, action plans, and restoration initiatives, heavily rely on these Bleaching Alert Levels. They serve as vital tools for planning and executing work, especially during emergency situations and periods of extreme marine heat stress. Any actions managers would have taken previously at Bleaching Alert Level 2 still apply.  However, discussions may need to occur now, among coral reef stakeholders in many areas, regarding appropriate actions for your networks, when the extreme Bleaching Alert Levels 3-5 are predicted.

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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