France: The current El Niño weather phenomenon is taking its toll on coral reefs, prompting a field campaign to the middle of the Pacific Ocean to explore how Europe’s Sentinel-2 satellite might be able to quantify the damage on a large scale.
To study the effects of El Niño events and climate change on corals on a larger scale, ESA has launched a field campaign to the Pacific island of Fatu Huku, part of French Polynesia, to explore how images of corals from Sentinel-2 can be exploited.
The satellite regularly collects data over land, inland water bodies and coastal areas, and is switched off over the open ocean. But a special request to collect data when the satellite passes over Fatu Huku has been made in an experiment to see how well it can monitor coral status, including an eventual coral bleaching event.
How will we know if it works? French scientist Antoine Collin is en route to Fatu Huku to check the data. Over the course of two weeks, Antoine will use special underwater cameras to assess the health of the coral reefs and how they change over time. This information will be analysed alongside Sentinel-2 data from the same time to see if the satellite and underwater observations are consistent.