Study Uses MODIS Data to Determine Belize Coral Reef Risk
The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) instrument aboard NASA's Aqua satellite captured this image of the Yucatán Peninsula on Feb. 3, 2022. At the center is Belize, a country whose Caribbean coast is home to the Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System, which encompasses a vibrant network of marine environments that supports thousands of animal and plant species and drives Belize's largest industry, tourism. The barrier reef system is among about 1,200 UNESCO World Heritage sites around the world.
In a paper published in November 2022 in Frontiers in Remote Sensing, researchers used data from Aqua MODIS to rank 24 protected marine areas off the Belizean coast based on the risks coral face from murky water and rising temperatures. The research also outlined how researchers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California and counterparts in Belize used free, cloud-based data on Google Earth Engine in their analysis.
Analyzing imagery from 2002 to 2022, researchers developed a coral vulnerability index – a score between 2 and 12 that characterizes the risk to coral, with higher scores signifying greater risk. Their findings could help management authorities protect the reefs from human impacts such as development, overfishing, pollution, and climate change.
For more about MODIS: modis.gsfc.nasa.gov