Marine Heat Waves Affecting Corals

Coral reefs are an important part of the ocean ecosystem, they make up for the livelihood of about half a billion people. Recently, scientists have mapped the locations of coral before and after a major ocean heatwave.


Global Airborne Observatory (GAO) is an initiative of the Center for Global Discovery and Conservation Science in Hawaii. They use aircraft equipped with advanced spectrometers to map corals on and underneath the surface. These studies reveal how ocean coral ecosystems respond to rising temperatures of the ocean, pollution and other factors. It showed that reefs near heavily developed beaches are more vulnerable to mortality because more pollution is there.

The first GAO study was done after a mass coral bleaching event in the year 2019, it mapped 8 islands and identified locations which might be safe havens for corals in times of marine heatwaves.

"Our findings highlight the new role that coral mortality and survival monitoring can play for targeted conservation that protects more corals in our changing climate," said Greg Asner, lead author of the study and director of the ASU Center for Global Discovery and Conservation Science.