IMIS | Flanders Marine Institute

Flanders Marine Institute

Platform for marine research


Publications | Institutes | Persons | Datasets | Projects | Maps
[ report an error in this record ]basket (0): add | show Printer-friendly version

Detection limits of coral reef bleaching by satellite remote sensing: simulation and data analysis
Yamano, H.; Tamura, M. (2004). Detection limits of coral reef bleaching by satellite remote sensing: simulation and data analysis. Remote Sens. Environ. 90(1): 86-103
In: Remote Sensing of Environment. Elsevier: New York,. ISSN 0034-4257, more
Peer reviewed article  

Available in  Authors 

    Bleaching; Coral reefs; Remote sensing; Marine

Authors  Top 
  • Yamano, H.
  • Tamura, M.

    Monitoring of coral reef bleaching has hitherto been based on regional-scale, in situ data. Larger-scale trends, however, must be determined using satellite-based observations. Using both a radiative transfer simulation and an analysis of multitemporal Landsat TM images, the ability of satellite remote sensing to detect and monitor coral reef bleaching is examined. The radiative transfer simulation indicates that the blue and green bands of Landsat TM can detect bleaching if at least 23% of the coral surface in a pixel has been bleached,assuming a Landsat TM pixel with a resolution of 30x30 m on shallow (less than 3 m deep) reef flats at Ishigaki Island, Japan. Assuming an area with an initial coral coverage of 100% and in which all corals became completely bleached, the bleaching could be detected at a depth of up to 17 m. The difference in reflectance of shallow sand and corals is compared by examining multitemporal Landsat TM images at Ishigaki Island, after normalizing for variations in atmospheric conditions, incident light, water depth, and the sensor’s reaction to the radiancereceived. After the normalization, a severe bleaching event when 25-55% of coral coverage was bleached was detected, but a slight bleaching event when 15% of coral coverage was bleached was not detected. The simulation and data analysis agreed well with each other, and identified reliable limits for satellite remote sensing for detecting coral reef bleaching. Sensitivity analysis on solar zenith angle, aerosol (visibility) and water quality (Chl a concentration) quantified the effect of these factors on bleaching detection, and thus served as generalguidelines for detecting coral reef bleaching. Spatial misregistration resulted in a high degree of uncertainty in the detection of changes at the edges of coral patches mainly because of the low (f30 m) spatial resolution of Landsat TM, indicating that detection of coral reef bleaching by Landsat TM is limited to extremely severe cases on a large homogeneous coral patch and shallow water depths. Satellite remote sensing of coral reef bleaching should be encouraged, however, because the development and deployment of advanced satellite sensors with high spatial resolution continue to progress.

All data in IMIS is subject to the VLIZ privacy policy Top | Authors