The phrase “coral beads” by which we understand immediately what we are talking about ruby red jewelry, soon, probably, will lose its meaning. And blame the warm current of the Pacific ocean El niño, which literally “eats” coral coloration. To assess the extent of damage, the European space Agency (ESA) launched a project on monitoring coral reefs from satellite “Sentinel-2”.
photo: Roman Orlov
El niño generally move from West to East, displacing the colder nutrient-rich water off the West coast of Central and South America. Besides the fact that this warm water adds extra moisture to the air masses moving over the ocean, and leads to large-scale weather anomalies around the world, it turned out, affects the color of corals, according to ESA.
“Sentinel-2” was launched aboard a Vega rocket from the spaceport in French Guiana on 23 June 2015. This is the second spacecraft sent into orbit in the framework of “Copernicus”. It rotates around the Earth in sun-synchronous polar orbit at an altitude of 800 km, and Changes in flora and fauna it captures multi-spectral instrument (MSI) with a resolution of up to 10 meters.
How is the color of the coral and the warming of water in the ocean? It turned out that the temperature increase influences the change of the living conditions of microscopic algae living in symbiosis with corals. Under the influence of toxic elements that begin to distinguish these algae in warm water, the skeleton of the coral remains color.
The El niño that began in 2014, has already bleached corals in the Hawaiian Islands. According to the National oceanic and atmospheric administration research (USA), the bleaching this year could spread to most of the corals in the world, including in the Indian ocean and South Pacific ocean.
Despite the relatively low overall biomass of corals in the world ocean (about 0.1%), coral reefs provide a vital source of biodiversity for 25% of marine organisms. Thus, the death of corals leads to the disappearance of many species of marine animals and reducing the economic well-being of people dealing with their prey.
To study the effect of El niño and climate change for corals on a global scale, ESA initiated a study on the Pacific island of Fatu hook (part of French Polynesia). Scientists within two weeks will be to monitor the status of local coral reef special underwater cameras. At this time, the satellite “Sentinel-2” will carry on his observations of reef from space.