Andrea Michelle Gomez, CUNY Graduate Center, City College of New York, Earth and Environmental Sciences, New York, NY, United States; NOAA EPP Earth System Sciences and Remote Sensing Scholar, New York, NY, United States, Kyle McDonald, CUNY City College of New York, Department of Earth and Atmospheric Science, New York, NY, United States; NOAA Center for Earth System Sciences and Remote Sensing Technologies and Department of Earth & Atmospheric Science, New York, NY, United States, Karsten Shein, ExplorEIS, Ashville, NC, United States, Stephanie DeVries, University of Tennessee Chattanooga, Geology and Environmental Sciences, Chattanooga, United States, Milton Carlo, University of Puerto Rico Mayaguez, Mayaguez, PR, United States, Roy Armstrong, University of Puerto Rico, Dept. Marine Sciences, Lajas, PR, United States, William J Hernandez, University of Puerto Rico-Mayagüez, Electrical and Computer Engineering, United States and Ross Cunning, Shedd Aquarium, Coral Research Biologist, Chicago, United States
Coral reefs cover less than one percent of the sea floor and are among the most biologically diverse ecosystems on Earth. Tragically, because of climate change-driven rising sea temperatures, most of the world’s reefs are threatened and in decline. Coral reefs can recover from thermal stress but recovery is often non-uniform and depends on the duration and recurrence of the stress. It has been hypothesized that the coral-algae symbiont community dynamics and/or environmental variables may relate to spatial irregularities in stress occurrence and recovery, however data are insufficient to quantify and understand these factors. Satellite remote sensing datasets support global-scale characterization and monitoring of risk to reefs associated with rising ocean temperatures. This research investigates relationships between temperature collected in situ in reefs, the corresponding sea surface temperature (SST) as observed by satellite remote sensing, and the seasonality of the coral-algae symbiont communities. Continuous time series temperature is recorded in situ and analyzed for multiple reefs in La Parguera, Puerto Rico, and compared with three remote sensing satellite-based SST datasets: (1) NOAA’s Coral Reef Watch 5km, daily SST product (version 3.1), (2) the Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s Group for High Resolution SST 1km, daily SST product, and (3) the UK Meteorological Office’s Operational Sea Surface Temperature and Sea Ice Analysis (OSTIA) 5km, daily SST product. These data are assessed in conjunction with symbiont community identity and density determined by using quantitative PCR analysis, to assess relationships between symbiont community and thermal regime. This research seeks to determine which remote sensing SST product best represents the temperature at depth in the coral reef biomes and to assess the algae symbiont community dynamics. Outcomes of this project include novel time series ocean temperature measurements collected in situ in coral reef communities that help fill the in situ environmental data gap, and statistical analysis of these in situ measurements as compared with the remote sensing satellite-based SST datasets. A goal of this research is to further understanding of seasonal symbiont shuffling and help coral conservation efforts to improve the thermal tolerance of corals.