Knowledge of oceanographic processes is essential for the understanding and monitoring of coral reef ecosystem health. Ocean circulation often determines the abundance, types, and diversity of species within a particular local ecosystem; it also determines where marine debris accumulates and how it may impact a particular reef ecosystem. Local changes in seawater temperature and chemistry can have drastic effects on coral health; and episodic storms and other high-energy events can radically change these ecosystems in a very short time.
In order to asses these impacts, the Coral Reef Ecosystem Division (CRED) has implemented a program that combines various monitoring platforms to measure and record ocean temperatures, salinity, wind and wave energy, tides, currents, available UV-B, and PAR.
These monitoring platforms which include long-term moored observing stations with data telemetry, satellite-tracked drifting buoys, subsurface instrumented moorings and shipboard sensors, are components of NOAA's Coral Reef Ecosystem Integrated Observing System (CREIOS). CREIOS operates in and around the coral reefs of the US-affiliated Pacific Islands. Locations presently include the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, the Territory of Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI), the Territory of American Samoa, and other U.S. Pacific Remote Island Areas (PRIAs), including Howland, Baker, and Jarvis Islands, and Palmyra, Kingman, and Johnston Atolls.
CREIOS allows for near real-time and long term monitoring, modeling and reporting of biological and physical environmental conditions which influence coral reef ecosystems. Information from CREIOS serves to alert resource managers and researchers to environmental events considered significant to the health of the surrounding coral reef ecosystem, allowing managers to implement response measures in a timely manner, and allowing researchers to increase spatial or temporal sampling resolution, if warranted. In situ measurements are also used to ground-truth satellite observations. Long-term time series data provided by the coral reef observing system assist researchers and resource managers in distinguishing between natural and anthropogenic changes to the ecosystem.
CRED's long-term moored observing stations are part of the Coral Reef Early Warning System (CREWS) network initiated by NOAA OAR's Coral Health and Monitoring Program which provides access to near real-time meteorological and oceanographic data from major U.S. coral reef areas.
CRED and CREWS are also part of a collaborative NOAA
Coral Reef Watch (CRW) which includes three
NOAA line organizations: NOAA Research (OAR), NOAA
Fisheries (NMFS), and NOAA Satellites and
- Provide a time series of high resolution sea surface temperature (SST), sub-surface sea temperature, salinity, PAR, UV-B, air temperature, barometric pressure, and wind direction and speed data to better understand the influences of local environmental conditions on the health of the surrounding coral reef ecosystem.
- Provide information in support of the periodic, but infrequent, field observations of the site. The time series data provided by the monitoring stations represent an important component of the field observations and rapid ecological assessments (REA) conducted every one or two years at the monitoring station sites.
- Provide critical ground truthing data for remotely sensed measurements.
- Provide validation and verification of hydrodynamic and other models used to better understand and predict processes affecting reef ecosystems.
- Examine the role of ocean circulation on 1) transport and accumulation of marine debris, 2) larval transport and recruitment of fish, crustaceans, corals and other marine species, and 3) placing monitoring observations into a climatological context.