Preserving reefs with NASA’s help

by | May 12, 2023 | Conservation | 0 comments

Photo: Belize coastline by Dronepicr

Move over Great Barrier Reef, Belize is making strides into coral reef research with NASA and Google as partners!  Data collected between 2002 and 2022 has been analysed by researchers from the US and Belize to determine if climate change is warming Belize’s shallow waters to a degree that could cause coral bleaching and biodiversity loss.

How did they do it?

Belize’s coral reef system is the second largest in the world, providing sources of income to locals as well as coastline protection. In order to conserve their marine ecosystems, Belize has a network of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) throughout their coastal waters. Satellite images, from NASA’s Aqua satellite, of these MPA’s  were used to calculate water clarity and sea surface temperature (SST), a combination of water quality parameters used to assess coral health.  What was found was that SST in the warmest month of the year in Belize was seen to increase across all MPAs from 2002 to 2022.

So what?

The upward trend in September SST is in line with what is being observed globally due to climate change. SST has increased by at least 1.1°C since the pre-industrial era, and, according to the UN, an estimated 60% of marine ecosystems have been degraded.  A SST increase of 1.5°C could threaten 70%–90% of coral reefs, while a 2°C increase is predicted to destroy nearly 100% of all coral reefs permanently.

Definitely time to do something about it!


Find out more at:

  • Heidi dM

    Heidi is a Marine Biologist who has been working in the public aquarium industry as an aquarist and now as a consultant specialising in husbandry, interpretation and staff training. She has also written a series of children's books about the aquarium and fish world called "Abby's Aquarium Adventures".


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Upcoming Events