Coral Bleaching Recovery Captured Using Advanced Virtual Technology

Source: Phys.org/UC San Diego

Photo: Vardhan Patankar/Wikimedia Commons 

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Researchers at Scripps Institution of Oceanography and engineers at UC San Diego have used new imaging software to detect dramatic recovery after a bleaching event on the reefs surrounding remote Palmyra Atoll in the tropical Pacific. The research was published April 5 in Coral Reefs.

In 2015, Palmyra experienced its warmest water in recorded history, prompting a widespread bleaching event that affected over 90 percent of the corals surrounding the island. Researchers found that despite the widespread bleaching, most of the corals recovered, with less than 10 percent dying.

The conclusions are based on comprehensive monitoring of the reefs and is providing for more precise observations of how reefs are changing over time. The researchers used a long-term data set of thousands of pictures of the same  area collected over eight years. These images were stitched together using custom software to create 3-D photo mosaics of the ecosystem—a virtual representation of the corals. The technology was developed by the 100 Island Challenge team, a collaborative group of marine ecologists and engineers using the latest technology to monitor coral reefs around the world.

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Photo: Vardhan Patankar/Wikimedia Commons

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