RESOURCES: Diagnosing Feverish Reefs

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Science  13 Sep 2002:
Vol. 297, Issue 5588, pp. 1775
DOI: 10.1126/science.297.5588.1775a

Coral reefs are supposed to be as colorful and vibrant as a Mardi Gras parade, not tattered and wan. This coral has fallen victim to bleaching, which jeopardizes reefs worldwide. Stressed by heat, pollution, disease, or ultraviolet light, the animals whose skeletons form the reef lose their nourishing symbiotic algae. Coral Bleaching Indices, a site from the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, uses satellite measurements of sea temperatures to help scientists pinpoint where corals are at risk. Monitoring 24 reefs in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans, the site gives each a vulnerability score based on how long water temperature stays above the average maximum for the time of year. Links take you to global maps of bleaching hot spots and animations that chart their changing locations.

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