Marine Science Faculty Publications


David O. Obura, CORDIO East Africa, Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network, Marine Biodiversity Observation Network, Global Ocean Observing System Biology and Ecosystems Panel, Kenya
Greta Aeby, Qatar University
Natchanon Amornthammarong, Cooperative Institute of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences (CIMAS) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
Ward Appeltans, Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO, Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) Project Office for International Oceanographic Data and Information Exchange (IODE), Belgium
Nicholas Bax, Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, Oceans and Atmosphere, Australia
Joe Bishop, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), United States
Russell E. Brainard, Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center, U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, United States
Samuel Chan, National University of Singapore
Pamela Fletcher, Environmental Science Department, Broward College, United States
Timothy A. Gordon, University of Exeter
Lew Gramer, Cooperative Institute of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences (CIMAS) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
Mishal Gudka, CORDIO East Africa, Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network (Western Indian Ocean), Kenya
John Halas, Environmental Moorings International, Inc., United States
James Hendee, Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, United States
Gregor Hodgson, Reef Check Foundation, United States
Danwei Huang, National University of Singapore
Mike Jankulak, Cooperative Institute of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences (CIMAS) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
Albert Jones, Caribbean Community Climate Change Center, Belize
Tadashi Kimura, Japan Wildlife Research Center, Japan
Joshua Levy, University of Hawaii at Mānoa
Patricia Miloslavich, Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies
Loke Ming Chou, National University of Singapore
Frank Muller-Karger, Institute for Marine Remote Sensing/IMaRSFollow
Kennedy Osuka, CORDIO East Africa, Kenya
Melita Samoilys, CORDIO East Africa, Kenya
Stephen D. Simpson, University of Exeter
Karenne Tun, National Parks Board, Singapore
Supin Wongbusarakum, and Joint Institute of Marine and Atmospheric Research

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Publication Date



ecological monitoring, coral reef, Climate Change, Essential Ocean Variables (EOV), social-ecological system, GOOS

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)


Coral reefs are exceptionally biodiverse and human dependence on their ecosystem services is high. Reefs experience significant direct and indirect anthropogenic pressures, and provide a sensitive indicator of coastal ocean health, climate change, and ocean acidification, with associated implications for society. Monitoring coral reef status and trends is essential to better inform science, management and policy, but the projected collapse of reef systems within a few decades makes the provision of accurate and actionable monitoring data urgent. The Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network has been the foundation for global reporting on coral reefs for two decades, and is entering into a new phase with improved operational and data standards incorporating the Essential Ocean Variables (EOVs) ( and Framework for Ocean Observing developed by the Global Ocean Observing System. Three EOVs provide a robust description of reef health: hard coral cover and composition, macro-algal canopy cover, and fish diversity and abundance. A data quality model based on comprehensive metadata has been designed to facilitate maximum global coverage of coral reef data, and tangible steps to track capacity building. Improved monitoring of events such as mass bleaching and disease outbreaks, citizen science, and socio-economic monitoring have the potential to greatly improve the relevance of monitoring to managers and stakeholders, and to address the complex and multi- dimensional interactions between reefs and people. A new generation of autonomous vehicles (underwater, surface, and aerial) and satellites are set to revolutionize and vastly expand our understanding of coral reefs. Promising approaches include Structure from Motion image processing, and acoustic techniques. Across all systems, curation of data in linked and open online databases, with an open data culture to maximize benefits from data integration, and empowering users to take action, are priorities. Action in the next decade will be essential to mitigate the impacts on coral reefs from warming temperatures, through local management and informing national and international obligations, particularly in the context of the Sustainable Development Goals, climate action, and the role of coral reefs as a global indicator. Mobilizing data to help drive the needed behavior change is a top priority for coral reef observing systems.

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Citation / Publisher Attribution

Frontiers in Marine Science, v. 6, art. 580

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