Monitoring coral bleaching by satellite thermal products: a case study in the southern South China Sea
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[ACCESS RESTRICTED TO THE UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI AT AUTHOR'S REQUEST.] Thermal stress is marked as an essential cause of coral bleaching. Corals begin losing the symbiotic algae and their color when sea temperature exceeds one to two degree Celsius above the summer maxima. Thus, monitoring thermal anomalies of seawater has become an imperative need. The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has developed methods to predict bleaching based on sea surface temperature (SST) achieved from satellite images. However, the predictions usually underestimate at local and regional scales due to the low spatial resolution (50 km). As a contribution to improve prediction of coral bleaching in the South China Sea, my research examined SST derived from higher spatial resolution products (4 km). Two parameters, HotSpot and Degree Heating Week (DHW) were applied to describe thermal stress in historical bleaching years at two archipelagos, Phu Quoc and Con Dao, Vietnam. The major findings include: (1) The difference of SST in the southwest and southeast of the South China Sea revealed through SST climatology data explains the phenomenon of fewer bleaching events at Phu Quoc. (2) Coral reefs at my study area suffered a severe thermal stress in 2010 with longer duration and higher DHW value than in 1998 and 2005. (3) The application of 4 km spatial resolution data prevented underestimating thermal anomaly and provided bleaching maps with more details than with 50 km resolution data.
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