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Satellites reveal fine-scale global area estimates for coral reefs: study


A research team led by experts from the University of Queensland (UQ) has utilized high-resolution satellite mapping to show an increase in shallow coral reef areas across the world.

According to the study published Tuesday in the Cell Reports Sustainability journal, researchers revised global coral reef estimates to 348,361 square kilometers of shallow coral reefs, with 80,213 square kilometers of coral habitat.

More than 1.5 million samples and 100 trillion pixels from the Sentinel-2 and Planet Dove CubeSat satellites were deployed to capture fine-scale detail on the high-resolution global map.

A beautiful coral reef in Indonesia. /CFP
A beautiful coral reef in Indonesia. /CFP

A beautiful coral reef in Indonesia. /CFP

"Importantly, the high-resolution, up-to-date mapping satellite technology also allows us to see what these habitats are made from," said Mitchell Lyons, lead author of the study and a research fellow at the UQ.

"We've found 80,000 square kilometers of reef have a hard bottom, where coral tends to grow, as opposed to soft bottom like sand, rubble or seagrass. This data will allow scientists, conservationists, and policymakers to better understand and manage reef systems," the researcher noted.

Chris Roelfsema, co-author of the study and UQ's associate professor, revealed that the maps and associated data are publicly accessible through the Allen Coral Atlas and Google Earth Engine and are already being used in marine conservation worldwide.

"The details provided by these maps empower scientists, policymakers and local communities to make informed decisions for the preservation of our coral reefs," he said.

(Cover image via CFP)

Source(s): Xinhua News Agency
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